Wednesday, April 27, 2011

learning about leeks

fall has well and truly hit here in the Blue Mountains of NSW.  things are starting to grow for my winter garden in a delightful way, leading me to anticipate a plethora of yummy winter soups and stews (note to self: must to a blog report on a soupy winter garden).  but there is one veg that is missing from my garden .... the glorious leek.  i love leeks.  they add this creamy velvety taste to a dish that is absolutely amazing.  i hardly ever pass by leeks at the green grocer and leek and potato soup is a mainstay on our winter dinner menu. 

so ... a must grow in the garden, right?  especially considering how much they can cost .... right?  gulp.

let me share a secret. 

i'm scared to grow leeks.  it's true ... i have failed every time i've tried to grow them.  and the few that have made it through took forever to get to maturity.  it just seems like for the most part, they fail every time and it that they take forever to grow.

i decided i needed to be better educated about this amazing veg .... to appreciate it a bit more.  so i engaged in a short course of understanding this mild mannered creamy creature.  perhaps i will be able to grow it better next time!

so .... hang on to your hats .... here is the 30 second version of what i have learned. 

things to remember when growing leeks.
  • they like to be grown in the cooler months of the year
  • leeks do well with other root veg such as carrots and are in the onion / garlic family
  • they do best when started in seedling trays and then transplanted when they are about 6 in, tall
  • as the plant matures, hill up the soil around them as this "blanches" them to give them the white creamy flesh
  • duoh! they do take a long time to grow .... at least 4-6 months and they can stay in the ground up to a year to be used when they are needed
  • you can get twice the yield by cutting the leek about a cm above the ground to use .... a second one will grow through the middle!  i've tested this one ... it does work!
oh, and apparently the Roman Emperor Nero was said to have regularly eaten leeks and it is the national emblem of Wales (store that one up for your next Trivial Pursuit game!).

and where do i go from here? 

well, i took a nose dive today, plunged off the deep end and planted a full seedling tray of leeks.  low expectations .... promise!  but the plan is NOT to put them in a main bed when they are ready to be planted out, but to put them in a broad bed .... the sort of bed that you just let go and leave be .... because the leek is the type of veg that just needs to be left alone.  to "bloom where it is planted" ... LOL.  i guess i'm hoping that if i ignore them, come this time next year, i'll be able to have a leek or two in just about anything i feel like!

i'll keep you posted on my progress!

1 comment:

  1. I love leeks. My mother was Welsh, what more can I say.