This guide on how to grow leeks covers planting seeds or seedlings, container gardenings, and harvesting leeks.
If you have ever purchased fresh leeks, you may have noticed the high price that came with them. Growing your own leeks not only ensures you a fresh supply of leeks but also saves you money in the process! If you are curious about growing your own leeks, look below at some helpful tips for growing leeks right in your own backyard. It is easier than you might think and can help stretch your food budget well into the fall months. Here is what you need to know about how to grow leeks!
How to Grow Leeks
How to plant leek seeds
If you wish to plant leeks from seeds, you can begin the process about 6 weeks before the last frost of the season. You can use planting trays or peat pots to begin. Be sure you have a sunny window that gets moderate to full sun (6-8 hours) and use a nitrogen-rich potting soil.
Leek seeds can be fairly close together when you plant them. Placing them just a few centimeters apart is sufficient. You don’t want to bury them deep, about half an inch will do. Cover them very loosely with soil and keep the soil moist to encourage quick growth.
Should you wish to plant your leek seeds directly into your outdoor garden, you will follow these same guidelines. Choose a full sun area where the soil drains well and doesn’t become muddy. If you don’t have nitrogen-rich soil you may wish to use additives prior to planting.
Plant the leek seeds in rows, sprinkling the seeds within the row just a few centimeters apart. Be sure the soil is not compacted and instead loosely folded on top of the seeds. It is just as important to keep the seeds damp outside as it is in. About two inches of water per week will do the trick.
How to plant leek seedlings
Many gardeners like to plant leeks from seedlings in order to enjoy the harvest sooner. If you have a short growing season or short patience, this growing method may be ideal for you as well!
Whether you are transplanting your indoor grown leeks or using pre-purchased leek seedlings, you will want to handle the thin plants carefully. Choosing a full sun area, use a fork to poke small holes into the soil. Holes should be placed about six inches apart and in rows about 1 foot apart.
Seedlings are ready to go into the ground when they are about 6 inches tall. Gently untangle the roots and place one plant per hole. Don’t worry if they seem a bit floppy at first. It may take a while before they anchor themselves and can stand up straight.
Keep the soil moist with regular waterings (2 inches a week) and in no time your seedlings will be up and running!
How to grow leeks in containers
If you have limited space, you can grow leeks in containers. Like most container gardens you want to use a planter that is at least 12-18 inches wide and 12-18 inches deep. Your container must be able to drain well. You may need to add additional drainage holes to the base of the planter.
Seedlings are advised over seeds when using the container method. Take care to space your seedlings about 6 inches apart. As you can see, using a 12-18 inch pot means about 2-3 plants per pot.
If you don’t get full sun in your yard, using the container method can help you move the container as needed. This way the plant can get the sun it needs to thrive.
How to care for leek seedlings
Because leeks grow shallow roots, you want to be sure you keep weeds under control. Take care to weed daily so your leeks don’t need to compete with the other plants. There is no need to do this chemically, as simply pulling by hand can help.
Leeks won’t attract many garden pests, but you may see the occasional aphid. If this happens a food safe pest repellent can help.
Some gardeners like to create bright white stems on their leeks. This is called blanching and can help give the leeks a more distinct flavor. To blanch your own leeks, place a cardboard tube around the plants about 3 weeks prior to harvesting. This will rob the foliage of the sun and will help blanch out the plant.
How to harvest leeks
Many gardeners find forks helpful when it comes to harvesting leeks. Use the fork to gently loosen the roots and pull the plant up from the ground. You can do this as soon as the leeks are anywhere from 6-10 inches in height.
You can continue to harvest the leeks until the ground freezes. To lengthen the harvesting season as much as possible, add some mulch around the base of the plant!
Leeks can be used much like scallions. Simply trim away the roots and remove any dead foliage. You can then clean the leeks and use them at once in soups and salads, marinades or side dishes!
Give these tips on how to grow leeks a try. They can help you grow an abundance of leeks to be enjoyed all season.