Growing leeks is easy, and better than buying them from a store. So, you can easily learn how to grow leeks at home by following some simple steps.
Leeks have long cylindrical white parts that is followed by green leaves that are flat and folded. They have a small onion bulb in the end which is the plant’s root.
Leeks look like white onions, but are a little bigger compared to green onions. They belong to the family of garlic, green onions, and chives. They are a part of many great dishes and can easily alleviate how a dish tastes and looks.
In the supermarket, leeks are not easy to get and are pretty expensive when available. So the alternative for that is growing leeks yourself.
How to grow leeks?
The initial step in growing leeks is sowing the seed. You can easily get the seed from a farmers’ market or online.
They can grow best in cool conditions with space that allows them to grow tall. You can either sow the seeds in an ample open space like a garden or in deep, wide pots.
To ensure that the seeds have the nutrition they need, you must prepare the soil using compost and manure. This would be packed with natural nutrients to ensure the plant grows tall, healthy, and strong.
Sow the seed quarter of an inch deep while leaving the space of at least 20 cm in between each seed. Remember to water the seed but in moderation. To germinate, the seeds require moist soil that is not too wet. So watering too much can cause them to die.
The perfect surrounding atmosphere is a necessity for any plant to grow better. And similarly, you must keep certain conditions related to soil pH, water, weather, and sunlight in mind before and after sowing the seeds.
The first atmospheric condition is the sun. Leeks require a lot of sunlight to grow well. So the growing plant needs direct sunlight for at least six hours a day.
Too little sun can cause damage to the plant. As sunlight helps in photosynthesis (food production), less amount of it can lead to stunted plant growth.
Leeks grow best in slightly acidic soil, with a pH between 6 and 6.5. You can use organic matter and manure to achieve and maintain that slight acidity in the soil.
The organic matter contains potassium which helps in reaching the desired pH. pH is not to be worried about much, but if you are still confused, you can test the soil pH using a universal indicator.
Water is another essential ingredient for the growth of plants, especially in the case of leeks. They have a root system that’s shallow and thus requires frequent watering. The growing plant should be watered at least an inch per week.
You should keep in mind that too much watering can also harm the plant; hence, you should maintain a sound drainage system, so the water does not hold and harm the plant.
Temperature & humidity
Regarding temperature, leeks can easily hold themselves in cold and frost. They tend to grow best at the temperature ranges of 55-75℉. The best time to sow the seeds is before one or two weeks after the last snowfall.
Leek seeds will germinate in 10 to 14 days after which the first baby plant will appear. After that, you can replant them in a different area when the optimal temperature is about 45℉. Then, all that is needed will be making sure that it gets enough sunlight in a day and enough water in a week.
Once the stem’s width or circumference of the leek reaches the height of one inch or more, it is fully developed. To check the quality of the plant, you can observe the white part. It should be strong, firm, and at least three inches long.
Harvesting a crop means collecting the seeds used in the next season to grow more produce. As leeks belong to the family of onions, often people think the top to die like that of an onion. Bun, unlike shallots and onion, it doesn’t.
They can be harvested till late winters as they can hold themselves firm during cold and frost, but it depends on your desire.
You have to be particularly careful when taking out the plant. You can take them out by digging into the soil or gently pulling them.
Once you have carefully extracted the leeks out of the soil, the next step is to clean them thoroughly. There is often dirt stuck inside the leaves of the leeks, so you should soak them in salt water for a while.
Follow the soak with a thorough wash of the plant. Try to clean the inside of the leaves as much as possible.
You can consume them immediately for better taste and experience by adding them to many dishes, or you can cover them in a plastic bag or roll them on paper. This can be stored in the fridge for 14 to 21 days. You can freeze them to make them usable for longer.
You can chop them before freezing for feasibility (in a circular shape or storing the white stalk and green parts separately).
Different varieties of leeks:
There are many different types and varieties of leeks based on their genetic difference due to the area they grow in, taste, and appearance.
As the name says, this variety of leeks can grow more than 30 inche, so their length is enough to distinguish them from the wide other varieties. They are also ready to be harvested in 130 days.
Another popular variety of leeks that got its name due to the short maturation period and hence the name early. They reach their mature height in about 98 days which is astonishing as leeks are some of the tall vegetables to be grown.
Apart from that, they are known for their particularly thick stems, which explains the name giant, and have a mild oniony flavor (not strong enough to bring tears to the eyes).
Leek Sprintan F1
It is a variety with a very early cropping period in the months between Aug. & Nov.
American Flag is another leek variety with narrow and long shafts and a mild and sweet flavor.
Leek plant problems
Like many plants, leeks are also prone to many diseases and pests in their lifecycle that can kill the plant or make it unsuitable for human consumption.
Leek rust is the major and most common issue faced by many leek growers. It occurs when the leaf has yellow patches caused by fungal infections.
The appearance of the yellow color results from the initial stages of infection. In this stage, you can cut off the affected parts to stop the infection from spreading to the other parts of the plant.
In some severe conditions, the leaves can wilt; in this case, it can spread wildly into the entire yield and be challenging to stop.
You should plant the seeds at a distance as a preventive measure from leek rust. Plantation of the seeds close to each other decreases the airflow. It is also suggested that you should not plant them in the same year for more than three years.
The leek moth
Moth is a pest that affects the variety of leeks by making tunnels in the leaves. It can cause the plant to have brownish patches and lead to the leaf or whole plant rotting.
However, it has been known to affect the east coast of the UK. There have been reports of them across other regions around the globe. Leeks moths should be avoided.
Once a plant has been infected, the best course of action is to cut the affected areas so the disease does not spread.
Wash the plant with soapy water to kill any remains of the moth and spray an insecticide spray which can kill any eggs that the adult moths may have laid.
Benefits of leeks
Leeks belong to the family of onion and shallots but have a mild taste compared to them. People often tend to compare leeks to spring onions, but there are some differences between the two based on their physical appearance and taste.
Leeks are used in many food dishes as an ingredient or garnishing. But leeks are a key part of many of the cuisines belonging to many different cultures.
So is leek used in these dishes because of its green color? What about its flavor? Maybe it’s something more?
You would be surprised to know that leeks have numerous health benefits for which it is well known and used. So leek is a vegetable that tastes great and has many benefits too! Leeks have a plethora of advantages, including:
Leeks are nutritious
One significant health benefit of leeks is that it has meager calories and a high amount of vitamins. It is filled with vitamin A- a vitamin necessary for vision, reproduction, and the immune system.
People deficient in vitamin A tend to suffer from night blindness, which is a bit severe for people with glasses.
They also contain vitamin K1 (uncommon vitamin but still an essential one). This vitamin is responsible for your heart health and blood clotting. In case of vitamin K1 deficiency, it would take an awful lot of time for the injury to seal and heal.
Apart from that, they contain vitamin C to boost immune health, manganese to help with premenstrual syndrome in women, and copper, iron, and folate to increase the hemoglobin levels in the blood.
Packed with antioxidants
In the health world, leeks are known to be a rich source of antioxidants like kaempferol. Antioxidants, as explained in their name, prevent oxidizing. Oxidation in the bloodstream can be a cause for many diseases like cancers, diabetes, and heart conditions.
Leeks are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the risk of many heart conditions that may be caused due to internal inflammation.
Aids with weight loss
Leek is a type of vegetable that has very few calories and is classified as a diet food. It is just 31 calories per 100 grams. The majority of the leek is made up of fibers and water. Water and fibers are able to make you feel full so you will not feel hungry and therefore eat less.
It also decreases appetite and hence helps you in eating less. The fiber promotes gut health by pushing the waste down your digestive tract and excreting them from the body.
May help decrease the chance of cancer
Leeks are filled with many substances that tend to decrease the chance of cancer by decreasing inflammation in the body.
According to the research done by a scientist, leeks also help in killing cancer cells, reducing the risk of spread. Recent research done on mice claims that regular consumption of leeks can reduce the chances of cancer by up to 46%.
The incredible taste
The incredible taste of leeks allows you to add leeks into your diet and daily consumption easily. Majorly known for their addition to soups, leeks are also a part of many other types of food. Over the continents, leeks are added as a part of dishes and breakfast omelets to noodles and pickles.
As leeks are a source of health and disease-fighting agents, it has been a part of the culinary world since many years ago.
In the past, when the use of medications was near zero. These natural agents were used as preventive agents as well as curing agents.
Conclusion on how to grow leeks
Leeks are known worldwide as an integral part of many cuisines and dishes eaten worldwide throughout the year. To increase the production of leeks, many fertilizers are added, which may increase the number produced but affects the taste and freshness.
Growing leeks at home are relatively easy and simple. Following some easy-to-follow steps and precautions to keep the plant healthy, you can have access to a healthy amount of leek that is much better tasting than those found in the supermarket.
Other gardening articles:
- Herb Gardening For Beginners
- Growing Strawberries In Raised Beds
- How To Keep Basil Alive
- How To Grow Green Onion
- Easy Fruits And Vegetables To Grow
- How To Grow Lettuce
- How To Grow Kale
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