Grow Your Own Leeks
Leeks are the easiest of the onion family to grow in the garden. They are also very versatile in the kitchen, have a long harvesting season and can be left in the soil during the winter months until required.
How to Grow LeeksChoose a sunny position for the leeks' final bed and dig the soil over in the autumn before planting out the next year. Incorporate plenty of well-rotted manure at the same time. Well-drained, loose soil suits leeks best.
Sow leek seeds in a prepared seedbed between march and mid-june leaving six inches between each row and sowing the seeds to a depth of half an inch. When the seedlings appear thin them to a distance of about one and a half inches apart. As soon as the leeks have reached eight inches in height and are roughly as thick as a pencil they are ready to be transplanted to their prepared final bed.
If the soil is dry, water the leeks well the day before transplanting. Lift carefully with a fork. Trim off about two-thirds of the root of each leek and cut off about half of the top leaves before transplanting to the final bed. Plant each leek in a six inch deep hole made with a dibber making the rows of holes twelve inches apart. Drop one leek into each hole and pour a little water into the hole so the soil is washed around the leek. Do not fill the hole with soil just allow the leeks to settle naturally. Keep the leek bed well weeded.
When the leeks are well established they can be earthed up. Soil should be drawn up around each leek to increase the amount of white flesh at the base of the vegetable. Do not earth up any later than October. When earthing up be careful not to get any soil into the leaves. Leeks can be fed with a suitable feed until late August. Early harvesting can begin in September but leeks can be left in the soil over winter and dug up as required. Do not pull up leeks, always use a fork.
Leek ProblemsThese are some of the common problems that can afflict leeks:
This fly can attack leeks as well as onions especially in dry, hot weather. The maggots of the fly burrow into the bottom of the leek. It can kill small leeks.
Symptoms: Yellow drooping leaves.
Prevention: Hoe regularly around plants to expose grubs to birds.
Action: Remove and burn affected plants.
Onion Eel Worm
This is a microscopic soil-born pest. It gets into the leek and causes distortion and swelling.
Symptoms: Distorted looking leeks. White maggots around roots.
Prevention: Grow brassicas and lettuce for several years in the area where eel worm has been spotted.
Action: Dig up and destroy affected plants.
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