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     Growing Leeks                                                                              <<Back to Vegetable Ward

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 Introduction

Leeks are a cool season crop, and grow best below 24 C (75 F) but they will tolerate higher temperatures if kept well watered, they range from early to hardy to late and very hardy.  
They are biennials grown as annuals, they reach 18ins in height & 6ins across, the edible part is the thick white shank that's below the blue/green leaves known as flags by those gardeners who show them, they may be blanched by earthing up or deep planting.
 Preparing the bed for Kale
Leeks need a long growing season, start them early as possible in the year, sowing in succession, sow in a seedbed and transplant or sow them were they are to grow and thin out, thin or transplant at the three leave stage, for well blanched stems make a hole 6-8ins deep with a dibber made from an old spade handle, drop in a seedling and fill with water making sure the roots reach the bottom of the hole, ( I trim my leeks roots & tops by a third before planting, so the roots reach the bottom of the hole and the leaves don't lay on the soil which may cause rotting. ) Leeks respond well to being sown in modules with up to four seeds per cell, plant out the groups of seedlings with a 9ins spacing.
 Sowing and planting
Thin seedling to 3-4 inches  apart in the rows, they are ready to plant out when they are 5 inches high. Water the rows the day before planting, plant firmly with lower leaves just above ground level,  space plants 18 inches apart. The Rape Kale varieties are sown were they will grow to maturity, sow in rows 18ins apart drills ins deep thinning to 18ins between plants.
 Looking after the crop
Keep well watered until the leeks are well established, then only water in dry conditions, keep the beds weed free by regular hoeing. Mulch to retain moisture.
 Harvesting the crop
Leeks may be harvested 16-20 weeks after sowing, but they can stand for many months, and can be lifted when required, Leeks don't store well when out of the ground. If you need the ground you can dig them up and heel them in somewhere else till needed.

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