Friday, March 29, 2013

How to Plant Leeks

Planting leeks is a little different than planting onions. The plants look the same when they are small but they have a very different habit during growth and maturity. Leeks do not bulb up like onions so do not need to be on the surface of the ground like onions.

We dig a trench about 8 inches deep and plant the baby leeks in the bottom. Don't forget the fertilizer in the bottom of the trench. If you can put a couple of inches of compost in the trench at this time it will protect the leeks from weeds and provide a season of healthy nutrition in the root zone. (Compost will attract earth worms to the trench which will feed on the compost, the leeks love the worm castings left behind. We often find ooodles of worms around the roots of the leeks that have been blessed with compost.)

After about 4 weeks the leeks should have tripled in size and are firmly rooted. We roll in the edges of the trench filling in the trench about half way. This kills the first flush of weeds. We do this again in 2-3 more weeks. At this point the leeks are buried about 8 inches deep. We hill up soil (or compost) around the leeks.

Growing leeks this way provides for a very long blanched stalk. The usable part of the leek is from the leaves to the roots. Blanching does not really improve the flavor or tenderness, it is mainly cosmetic. But it is the traditional way leeks are prepared.

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