Leeks are a tasty ingredient in soups, stews and stocks. One reason to grow them is you'll have access to baby leeks — something you won't often find in stores. They make a delicious side dish when grilled with a bit of oil or braised in the oven. Visit the Recipes portion of the Vegetables Forum for specific recipes.
Leeks and onions are part of the same alium family. Not surprising then, they are grown in a similar way. The biggest differences are in how they are planted and how they are harvested.
Our favorite supplier of leeks is Dixondale Farms.
- Cool season crop.
- Buy plants or sets.
Planting and Tending
- Plant in garden as soon as the garden has thawed and drained and the soil is workable -- typically that's April for us.
- Leeks need rich, loose soil high in organic matter.
- To plant, top dress the bed with about an inch of compost. Create 6-8 inch deep holes, 3 - 6 inches apart. using a dibble or the end of a rake/hoe handle. Place young plant in the hole and gently water in. No need to fill the hole with soil. As the season progresses, subsequent waterings will gradually fill in the hole. Once the holes have filled in, periodically pull up a bit of soil around the plants — this is called hilling. Allow 12 inches between rows. If leeks are less than 6 inches apart, harvest every other one as baby leeks (a real treat!) so that the remaining leeks are able to mature to 1 to 2 inches thick.
- Fertilize in late May/ early June by side dressing (don't touch the plants) with compost, cottonseed meal or an organic product formulated for vegetables. Alternately, apply liquid fertilizer in the form of fish emulsion or compost tea.
- Keep free of weeds.
- Supplement rainfall with irrigation if necessary. Ideally, onions want about 2 inches of water per week.
- Harvest throughout the growing season starting with baby leeks in spring. Mature leeks become available in late summer and fall. In late fall, freeze cleaned and chopped leeks for use during the winter. Also, leave some leeks in the bed over the winter. They can be harvested during winter thaws and will resume growing in spring. Once flower stalks emerge, they become too tough to eat, but they make cool twisty stalks and seed heads. Keep a few in the bed for fun and interest in the vegetable garden. Plus, it's likely they attract some beneficial insects
- Plant near:
- Do not plant near:
Join the conversation "How to Grow Leeks". Visit the Vegetables Forum at GreatLakesGardeners.com to get answers to your growing vegetables questions. To ask a new question, Register if you haven't already done so(it's free and helps protect the forum from spam), click on Start New Topic, enter your question and click on Post New Topic.
You may also appreciate these books on growing vegetable gardens.