Of all the vegetables I grow, I have to say that the leeks are the easiest to deal with, especially when they are ready to be planted out and so with the sun shining well into the evening on Wednesday but the temperature not overpowering, I decided to make a start at getting the largest of my leeks into the ground. I have quite a number of leeks this year, across two varieties but they should, if all goes well, see us into early spring next year, with the yellow variety ready in the autumn (but before the frosts) and the blue variety taking us through the winter months.
Although, like the other seeds they need warmth to germinate, as soon as the majority are up and standing tall, leeks prefer to be moved to the colder environment of the greenhouse and when the greenhouse starts to warm up, as spring progresses, they can be moved, in their containers, out into the garden. I put mine under netting at this stage, to offer at least some protection from pigeons and the frosts.
Now we’re in June and the first sets of leeks are, for the most part, thick enough to planted out into their final positions. ‘Thick enough’ usually means that the girth of the leeks is the same as that of a standard pencil but there are usually a few that are still too small and they will stay in their container for a while longer. The last lot of leeks to be sown are still not quite big enough to be planted out.
So to the planting out.
As I said at the start of the post, planting out leeks is pretty easy, almost foolproof I would say. Firstly you need to make a series of deep holes in which to sit your leeks. I use my dibber for this and this usually creates a hole some 4 inches deep. I spaced mine about 8 inches apart, alternating a blue row followed by a yellow row etc.
Next I carefully removed a leek from the container and shook off most of the dirt. At this point there are a couple of trains of thought as to what you should do with your leek. One is that you plant the leek as is whilst another suggests that trimming the roots is the best way, as this encourages the leek to put down strong roots and encourages growth. A third way would suggest not only trimming the roots but also to reduce the length of the leaves by around 50%, thereby reducing moisture loss. I’m not entirely sure if there is any difference but it is certainly easier to plant leeks with trimmed roots than it is with massively long ones, so I have trimmed the roots on these leeks to about 1 inch in length.
The leek is then simply placed into the prepared hole and watered in! There is no need to back fill with soil, as the watering process puddles the mud around the roots of the leeks. So you can see, planting out leeks is very easy. This year I have surrounded my newly planted leeks with the cardboard inners from loo rolls and cut down kitchen paper rolls, to aid the blanching process and, hopefully, produce a nice long white tender stem to eat….. well in this bed at least. I am about out of the inners now but I still have a load of leeks to plant out and so I will be covering each of the remaining leeks, as and when a cardboard tube becomes available.