All About Growing Leeks

Almost any time of year is good for growing leeks, the most upright members of the onion family. Summer leeks are fast to grow from seed started indoors in late winter, or you can start leek seedlings in late summer to grow from fall to spring. This guide also includes descriptions of the types of leeks to try.


| December 6, 2013



Leeks

A four-season crop, leeks are a fine-flavored addition to soups, scrambles and more.


Illustration By Keith Ward

(For details on growing many other vegetables and fruits, visit our Crop at a Glance collection page.)

Easy to grow and welcome in any recipe that calls for onions, leeks (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum) allow you to grow oniony crops all year in your kitchen garden. Summer leeks are ready to pull only 60 days after planting, weeks before bulb onions are ready. Slower-growing leek varieties reach maximum size in fall and early winter. Leeks grow best in cool climates, or you can grow them as a fall-to-spring crop where summers are hot. Growing leeks requires moist, fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

Types of Leeks

Summer leeks are fast to germinate and grow, though they do not get as large as winter leeks. Maturing 90 days from seeding, or 60 days after transplanting, varieties such as ‘Lincoln,’ ‘King Richard’ and ‘Megaton’ can be grown at close spacing, and pulled anytime after they reach pencil size.

Autumn leeks include varieties that mature 100 days from seeding, or 80 days after transplanting. Large and vigorous, varieties such as ‘Lancelot’ and ‘Tadorna’ produce leeks of exceptional quality to harvest in fall, after the weather has cooled.

Winter leeks tolerate more cold than other varieties, so they are good choices for growing leeks through winter. Mature plants can be left in the ground into winter, or you can sow seed in midsummer for transplanting in early fall. These plants will mature in spring. Under good conditions, the shanks of winter leeks such as ‘Bandit,’ ‘Blue Solaise’ and ‘Siegfried’ exceed 1 inch in diameter.

How to Plant Leeks

Start leek seeds indoors in late winter provided you can grow them under bright florescent lights. You may also be able to purchase leek seedlings as garden centers or farmers markets in late spring.





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