Planting leeks and disturbing worms

on Sunday, April 17, 2011

Got over 150 leeks planted this afternoon, with plenty more to put in the beds where I find some space. So far I've filled all the areas that I have marked for leeks on the garden plan... now I just have to get creative with the rest.

I was reading an article commenting on how leeks tend to average about a dollar apiece when purchased at the store... and yet they're so easy to grow at home if you're just willing to give up the space for them long enough.

I learned a nifty trick for planting leeks a couple years ago. Most instructions have you planting the leek seedlings shallow, and then as they gain size you mound soil up around them to blanche the stalks, meaning shade as much as possible from sunlight so you get the more valuable white stalk and less of the tough dark green leafy parts. Only that means all spring and summer you're constantly moving soil around their bases, bringing it from somewhere else in the garden and/or worrying about damaging the plants.

With the technique I found, you "drill" a hole 1"-2" across and 8"-10" deep. You just drop the seedlings down the shaft and leave 'em. Don't fill in those holes right away! Watering, rain and wind will slowly knock soil down into the hole. And because this is happening slowly, the leek has time to set down roots and grow up upwards out of the hole. This worked great for most of my leeks the last two years.... although some of the leeks just never made it out of the hole.

So why all the pictures of worms? It seems shoving a 1x2 stake down into the soil nice and deep and then rotating it to form the shaft as you pull it out must remind the works of moles digging through the dirt to get them. You can be drilling a new hole and just a couple inches away a worm or two will shoot up out of the soil and start crawling away to safety.

If you look up worm charming or I think worm grunting online, you'll see how this is put to use.
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GrafixMuse said...

I read about this technique of planting leeks. I am growing a few leeks for the first time this year and will be giving it a try. It must have taken quite some time to plant 150 leeks. Interesting about the worms.

Jeph said...

It wasn't too bad doing it - and it would've taken considerably less time if:

1) It wasn't SO windy (soil etc kept blowing back down in the holes while I was trying to plant the leeks).

2) I hadn't had Daisy out there with me, constantly needing me to see what she was getting into, eating, wandering off, etc.

OTHERwise it goes pretty quick when the raised bed soil is really light and loose.

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