Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How We Plant Leeks

Our baby leeks are all grown up and ready to go out into the big garden!

separating the root mass
Last year in May, I described the trench method for planting leeks.  See here Leeks in trench.

This year, I just used the dandelion forky thing to poke holes in the ground (use anything that can poke deep round holes into the ground).  You might even use a dibber - the official garden tool for such a task.

Make a deep hole (4-6 inches) and move the tool around so that there's a nickle sized hole.  Place one of the leek seedlings (also called plugs) into the hole.  Space 6 to 8 inches apart.  That seems like a lot while they're small, but they'll fill that space in nicely as they grow and it allows you to keep hilling soil around them throughout the summer.

Now, you have two options.  You can leave the hole uncovered and water the leeks so that the soil around them gradually fills in the hole every time you water.  This helps to keep the soil fairly loose around the plant and covers the plant with more and more soil.  By planting them deep in the first place, you ensure that you'll blanch the leeks and end up with large amounts of the tasty white part.

Or, you can loosely cover the hole and then water the seedlings.  Throughout the summer you can add more and more soil around the plants to ensure the leeks are blanched.

Unless you want leeks the size of chives, you really must separate each individual leek from the overgrown bundle of roots in the container.  If you can't gently pull them apart, rinse the whole bundle in a bucket of water to help separate them.  I find that this is the most finicky part of planting leeks.
Separating each leek from the root ball
Day 2 - in water to make separating easier, using old butter knife to make holes
Leeky holes!
Good luck with your leeks!  

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