Planting Leeks

| 6/6/2017 9:07:00 AM

Tags: Pam Dawling, Virginia, planting leeks,


Unlike onions, leeks grow independently of day-length and will stand in your garden at temperatures colder than many other vegetables can handle, getting bigger until you harvest them. A flexible harvest date during fall and winter is a boon to gardeners seeking a steady supply of vegetables. Planting dates can be chosen to suit your climate. Both the white and the green parts of the leek are delicious. Only the tougher parts of the outer leaves need to be composted. Late spring or early summer is the time to transplant leek seedlings started earlier in spring. That is the aspect of growing leeks that I'll cover in this post. 

Leek Varieties

Leeks come in two main types: the less hardy, faster-growing lighter green varieties, which are not winter-hardy north of Zone 8. We like Lincoln, and King Richard (both 75 days). They are hardy down to 12°F (-11°C). American Flag aka Giant Musselburgh (105 days) is good for overwintering in climates milder than our 7a. It and Jaune du Poiteau, are hardy to 10°F (-12°C).

The blue-green hardier winter leeks such as Bulgarian Giant, Laura, Tadorna (100 days) are hardy to 5°F (-15°C). For winter leeks we also like King Sieg (84 days) and Bleu de Solaize (105 days) and Bandit (120 days). A few leeks (Alaska, Durabel) are hardy down to 0°F (-18°C).

Crop requirements for Leeks

Leeks do best in well-draining soil rich in nutrients, with a pH of 6.5, and good sunlight. Ideal growing temperatures are 55°F–75°F (13°C–24°C). Growth is slow above 77°F (25°C), but the plants do not deteriorate and will resume growth when cooler weather arrives.

Growing Leeks from Seed

If you have a long enough growing season and don’t want leeks in summer, you can delay sowing till March as we do. We transplant in late May or early June, in beds cleared of early spring crops. People with a longer growing season (zones 8–9a) can plant two crops: the first 12–14 weeks before the last spring frost, and the second in mid-July, to transplant in late September or early October. In zones 9b–11, sow only in July, and use a bolt-resistant variety for leeks to harvest in the new year.

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