Thursday, December 5, 2013

Transplanting and growing leeks

After a slow start to their growing season in the cold spring of 2013, the leeks never caught up with the growth rate we wanted and produced little of any size.

But while they may not have won a beauty contest the certainly tasted just as good. Normally, I transplant leeks in mid-June but this year it was mid-July, and they were barely ready then.

I usually use a variety called Longbow which is good for the wetter than average conditions we get in the South Wales Valleys. I sow continuous rows of seeds and let them grow to about eight inches high or as thick as a pencil. Then they’re about ready to transplant.

The ground needs preparing. It should be good rich soil, perhaps limed if it's acidic or had manure on it recently and perhaps with a general fertiliser top dressing if it's likely to be light in nutrients.

You’re going to make holes in the soil about five to six inches deep and about an inch and a half in diameter. So it helps to soak the ground the night before so the soil is damp and firm and the sides of the holes won’t crumble in.

You can buy or make a special dibber for this job. They're usually a torpedo shaped piece of wood, often made out of an old spade or fork handle.

Make the holes about 12ins apart. Then gently tease up the leeks you’re going to transplant with a hand fork. I always take the biggest or thickest seedlings to plant individually. The rest can either stay in the ground or be put for a week or more in a pot of water to keep them fresh. They’re great for stir fries and even salads.

“The chosen ones” are simply dropped into the holes. It doesn’t matter if they have a bit of soil on the roots as long as they go to the bottom of the hole. Twisting them gently as they go down helps the fine roots in. The more stem that goes into the hole, the longer the blanched, white shaft of the leek will be, which is supposed to be the best tasting part (though I eat as much green as I can too, as long as it is tender).

Then water in gently – trying not to wash the sides of the holes in. And keep watered every day for a week or two until the roots are really established.

No comments:

Post a Comment