How to Grow Leeks

How to Grow Leeks

How to Grow Leeks

I absolutely love leeks. They are such a delightful way to boost a recipe from boring to culinary masterpiece. 

Leeks are a relative to onions and look a lot like gigantic scallions (aka green onions). They have a flavorful milder onion taste and I find they work really well in soup recipes.

Leeks are easy to grow in your garden. They are a cold-tolerant vegetable and like onions, they love plenty of water and a healthy organic rich soil. A bonus is that you can grow two crops of them per year – summer leeks and winter leeks.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know in order to grow leeks in your garden.

How to Propagate Leeks

  • First and foremost, you need to find some good-quality leek seeds. This is a list of my favorite seed companies to help you find your favorites.
  • Start leek seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost date (find your last frost date here). 
  • Both summer leeks and winter leeks are started at the same time. There are two varieties of leeks -early maturing ones for the summer and later varieties for the winter.
  • Leek seedlings can be transplanted outside as soon as the risk of hard frost has passed.
  • Transplant them into rows in the garden, spaced at 6 inches apart.
  • Make sure the garden soil is full of plenty of organic matter (learn how to make your own compost here).

Where to Plant Leeks in Your Garden

  • Plant your leeks in a sunny spot 
  • Be careful not to grow on a garden patch that recently had brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) because they will grow poorly (check out my crop rotation guide for more details).
  • Leek plants are shallow rooted and will slowly need to be mounded up with soil, so plant them in a place in your garden that is easy to add soil slowly throughout the garden season.
Growing Leeks in the Garden

Maintenance for Leeks During the Growing Season

  • Give your leek plants plenty of water during the growing season to keep them healthy.
  • The biggest maintenance for your garden leeks is blanching them. The blanching process produces the long, white bulb that you mainly use in your cooking. It is not absolutely necessary to blanch your leeks, however, the blanched/white parts of the leek are more tender and commonly used in cooking, so it’s a good idea to at least attempt to blanch them (we all know how the garden season can get a bit overwhelming and things can be forgotten…).
  • There are a few ways to blanch your leeks in the soil: (1) Plant them in a row and gradually mound/cover them with soil as it grows. Just keep in mind that this option can leave soil in the leaves and can be challenging to wash out before cooking; (2) You can put something around the part of the leek you want to blanch. You can use your imagination and whatever you have on hand, but some ideas to inspire you include: toilet paper cardboard rolls, paper towel cardboard rolls, and/or paper cups. The goal here is to protect the bottom part of the leeks from the sunlight so they become white and tender.
Harvesting Leeks in the Garden

Harvesting Leeks from the Garden

  • You can start harvesting whenever you need a few leeks, and finish harvesting the summer variety by the beginning of fall.
  • The winter leek varieties can be dug up as long as the ground remains unfrozen. If you put a plastic A-frame tunnel over the row (learn more about how to extend your garden season here), you can dig up leeks all through the winter.
  • Leeks that stay in the frozen soil over the winter can sometimes be dug up and eaten in the early spring before they go to seed.
  • Leeks are harder to dig up than onions. Pry them loose with a digging fork and then gently pull them by grasping them at the base.
  • They can be stored for several weeks in the root cellar or refrigerator.

Final Thoughts on Growing Leeks

I hope my information here helped you gain confidence in growing leeks in your garden. They are totally worth it and I actually prefer growing leeks over growing onions. 

For more tips on growing leeks, check out my helpful resources here:

How to Grow Leeks

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