How to Grow Leek
In this article, we share a comprehensive guide to growing leek at home.
Quick Guide Information
Common Name: Leek
Scientific Name: Allium ampeloprasum
Life Span: Biennial
Time Till Harvest: 100-150 days
Light Requirement: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Optimum pH: 6.0 - 7.0
Leek is a versatile vegetable, revered for its use in soups and stocks as a staple of winter comfort foods. It can easily be grown in your garden and easily fits into any design. It is a relative of onions, garlic, and shallots as is noted by its aroma and flavor.
There are countless different types of leeks cultivated by gardeners which vary in size, flavor, and time of harvest. Early varieties are harvested in about 3 months while late varieties take about 5 months. Late varieties tend to be preferred due to their larger size.
Propagation, Planting, and Maintenance
Growing leeks resembles the process of growing onions, so if you’ve done this before it should be familiar.
Leeks seeds require temperatures above 13C and germinate in about one week to a week and a half. They can be planted well after the last frost has passed in early spring into early summer.
You can sow seeds directly in soil or in starter trays. Sow seeds every 5 cm and 1 cm deep in the soil. Keep it moist and wait till germination. After 3 or 4 weeks you can thin plants to be about 10 cm apart. With care you can transplant any extra seedlings.
Leeks require rich soil for proper growth. Amend soil generously with compost and loosen it with a broad-fork before planting if necessary. Mulch heavily with straw around the base of the plants to promote the growth of a longer shank.
After about 3-4 months your plants are ready for harvest. Most varieties are ready when the shank is about 7 cm in length and 2.5 cm or more in diameter. The nice thing about Leek is that you can really harvest as soon as you’d like. You can even harvest some of the outer leaves of the young plants without affecting the final shank. In areas with mild winter Leek can also be overwintered for harvest in the spring.
Sometimes Leek will make small little babies on the sides of the plants. With gentle care these can be transplanted into a new bed.
If left for another season, Leek will eventually flower and produce seeds. Flowers are also edible.
Leeks are relatively disease free and do not suffer too much from pests. Their root systems are fragile and shallow, so it is important to be gentle when weeding around the base of the plants.
Excessive humidity and moisture can cause rust or mildew. If this is the case, try to improve airflow and sunlight to the plant. Also avoid overhead watering.