I recently hooked up with experienced gardener and horticulturalist Brendan. Brendan has some truly simple ideas for making sure that kids get the best benefit out of gardening. But that’s another article. This one is about how to grow leeks twice.
Leeks are part of the Amaryllidaceae,or onion family and so count garlic and spring onions as relatives. I prefer growing them over onions because they are more straight forward to my simple brain. ie, I can’t get the knack of onions but leeks. . .leeks, I get. You stick them in, they grow, you hill them, then you harvest them. Like potatoes really. The kids prefer the milder flavour and I don’t worry about the long and short harvest types.
Last year, I started a batch as seeds in punnets around March for harvesting four months later have found that I can grow them most of the year in my temperate garden. I also started some in June in a patch that ended up having dozen of self-seed tomatoes and they worked ok. The soil in that particular bed was very rich (chookified dirt as well as – sadly – foxified chickens) so I took a chance and let them sort it out. The tomatoes came out in Septemner and the leeks have powered on since then. I harvest when they are about finger and bit in thickness.
The biggest problem that I have, as with most of the Amaryllidaceae, is weeding. The broad leaved weeds I can spot very easily, but the thin grassy ones are a little tricker. They usually come about from the chookifying that I encourage. The chooks work over a patch after I’ve thrown some feed where I need them need to do their business. Keeping the leeks in a very exact grid helps me to pick out the weeds. They aren’t in the lattice, then then they are cactus.
The other minor problem is that they do take quite a while to mature. Four months to harvest. If only there was a way to either make then harvest quicker OR get another use out of them. That’s where Brendan’s neat little trick comes in.
Instead of pulling the leek entire out of the ground, you cut it off about half an inch of the ground. The leek shaft starts to grow again very quickly. Why so quickly? The root system is already established and so the newly sprouting leek has a ready built nutrient gather. These images where taken two weeks apart. Not sure yet when I’ll be eating harvesting these, but in much less than 16 weeks.