Leek 'Libertas' Winter - Seed
Centuries-old variety and a very healthy vegetable!
Leek seed requires no prior treatment but soaking the seed a full 24 hours in lukewarm water can encourage germination. Leeks are slow growers.Sowing
Sow at different times for early, mid-season, late and even later harvests.
Leek grows anywhere but do add some lime to a very sandy soil. Loosen the soil with a fork to a depth of at least 30 cm and sow in one of 2 ways:
- As soon as all chance of frost is passed, preferably in full sun. Draw a straight furrow, label the row and mix the seed with dry sand then sow as thinly as possible between thumb and forefinger along the row - try to attain a distance of 7-10 cm between seeds. Cover with 2 cm soil, press firmly down and sprinkle with water. Extra rows at 25 cm apart. The seed will germinate in approx. 3-4 weeks. Transplant the seedlings when the stems are pencil thick (see below).
- An early start can be achieved in seed trays indoors from the end of January. Tray needs at least 5 cm soil. Sow evenly over the tray and cover with 1 cm soil, press lightly down and sprinkle with water. Stand the tray at room temperature. Transplant the seedlings when the stems are pencil thick.
Thin out and transplant each seedling further up the row when it is as thick as a pencil. Each seedling goes into a hole 20 cm deep, every 10 cm. Do not fill the hole in but water each seedling immediately. This is how to plant leeks. Plant extra rows 25 cm apart.
Leek is of member of the Alliaceae (onion) family and is the mildest flavoured among all the onion varieties (common onion being the strongest).
There are two varieties of leek - Early and Late.
The earlies are less hardy although they can withstand a few degrees of frost. Best is to use the right variety for growing in the winter. The late grows slower than the early but is definitely hardy.
Leeks can be harvested as long as the ground is not frozen solid. If left in the ground over the winter, your leeks with shoot again in spring. As long as new leaf keeps appearing you can harvest them. If you wait too long a tall flower stalk with an attractive white flowering ball will appear.
Leeks do not store well so harvest just what you can use, preferably per meal. They will keep about one week in the fridge.
To clean a leek, slice along the length from root to greens, taking care not to cut all the way through. Run the whole leek under the tap, allowing any soil to run off and rubbing between the spread leaves - keep the root end higher than the greens. Once rinsed off, slice into rings of similar size (the 'rings' will be open due to the slice along the length.
Leek is tasty raw in various salads, both green and white parts. Chopped, cooked and eaten with meat and potatoes - delicious. And of course it helps make a great Leek and Potato Soup (Cock-a-Leekie).
Water extra during dry periods, keep the bed free of weeds and your leeks will thrive.Harvesting
Harvest period: July to October (summer crop) October-November (early autumn cultivation), November-December (late autumn crop), from January-May (winter crops), May-June (very early winter crop).
Harvest the year round depending on when sown.
This cropper is practically always ready to harvest - you are only too late when it is showing a flower stalk.
Use a flat tined fork or rake to flip your leek up out of the soil. Shake off any excess soil.