Leeks, Allium ampeloprasum, part of the onion family, and perhaps a little underrated, a staple that are seen as an ‘everyday’ accompaniment to meat; but their sweet, mild taste and silky smooth texture mean they can more than hold their own as the star of the show, whilst also being an excellent source of vitamins A, B6 and bone-building vitamin K.
If you are growing your own, the nine months from sowing the seed to harvesting are well worth the wait, and if you think carefully about the varieties you grow you’ll harvest from late summer through to the spring, although they do taste even better after a frost so late autumn and winter you'll find them at their best … we grow Musselburgh, Tadorna & Mammoth Blanc.
- Summer/Autumn varieties: sow under cover mid-February for planting out in mid-April.
- Autumn/Winter varieties: sow under cover mid-March for planting out in mid-May.
- Late Winter varieties: sow under cover early May for planting out in early June.
Leeks do well in open ground, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grow them in deep containers if you are short on space. The most important thing to remember it that your soil has had plenty of compost or well-rotted manure dug into it in the autumn … the key to a bumper crop.
We recommend you sow undercover, leeks are good germinators so you will get plenty to plant out. If you use modular trays with one or two seeds per module, you will minimise wastage, and the seed will store well for the following year. Once you have planted out make sure you water during long, dry spells and weed regularly. But otherwise they will look after themselves and promise delicious returns ... they are so much easier to grow than onions.
Our gardener's recipe this month is deliciously easy after a day in the garden ... Garden Leek Carbonara