Let's get this garden started!

on Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It may seem like the middle of winter to the rest of you, but Mary and I are already starting the gardening. A variety of lettuce seeds and bok choy/pak choi are sprouting, and the leeks, started only a week and a half ago, are already about 3 inches tall!

Don't worry - leeks actually need this long growing time, and will be able to tolerate cold weather when they get transplanted early this spring. To keep them under control their tops will be cut off periodically - just like mowing the grass! And when it comes time to plant them, they'll even have some of their roots cut back - this way their tops and bottoms will be roughly the same size and the plants won't go into shock when they're planted (a risk if they were too leafy without enough roots, or had too many roots without enough leaves).

When the leeks are planted, I'll dig narrow-yet-deep holes - depending on the size of the plants this could be from 6 to 9 inches deep, and just a little bigger around than your finger. Then I'll drop most of the plant down inside the hole and give it a good watering. Unlike planting most other plants, I won't push soil into the hole around the leeks when I plant them. Instead the occasional watering should wash some of the loose soil into the hole, slowly filling it as the leeks grow. This is considered "blanching" (not the same as blanching with boiling water), and will create that long tender white base that is preferred with leeks.

In case you're wondering, I'm trying two different varieties of leeks this year -Roxton and Large American Flag. Last year, my first year growing leeks, I grew Giant Musselburgh - since they were so successful I probably should've stuck with the same variety for one of my two types this year, but...oh well! We'll just have to see how these do. Just FYI - some of the ones last year, from the very tip of the tallest leaves to the bottom of the very shallow roots, were almost as tall as me!

Leeks are NOT cheap in the grocery store, and they have such a wonderful, mild sweet onion taste when cooked down in soups or other dishes.


Michele L. said...

I'm now totally into leeks! I should join a CSA.

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