cooking, recipes, cookery, food, gourmet cooking . . .

How to grow Leeks


LeeksLeeks are a popular vegetable and are easy to grow. They are a member of the Allium family, which also includes onions and garlic. Leeks have a mild, sweet flavour that works well in soups, stews and casseroles, and they are also great roasted or grilled.

Choosing the Right Variety

Before you start growing leeks, it is important to choose the right variety for your growing conditions such as:

Leek Musselburgh - a reliable mid-season leek, with good flavour and texture.
Leek Pandora - an early variety, with long regular stems which can be harvested from September to January.
Leek Lyon Prizetaker - with large thick stems that will last through the winter

Preparing the Soil

Leeks grow best in well-drained, fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. Start by digging the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches and remove any rocks, weeds or debris. Leeks prefer a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0, so it may be necessary to adjust the pH with lime or sulphur if your soil is too acidic or alkaline.

Adding Organic Matter

Leeks thrive in soil that is rich in organic matter, so it is important to add compost or well-rotted manure to the soil before planting. This will help to improve the soil structure, provide nutrients and retain moisture. Spread a 2 inch layer of compost or manure over the soil, and work it into the top 6 inches of soil with a garden fork or tiller.Planting Leeks

Leeks can be started from seed or from transplants. If you are starting from seed, sow the seeds indoors about 8 to 10 weeks before your last expected frost date. Leek seeds need a long germination period, so be patient and keep the soil moist until the seedlings emerge.

If you are starting with transplants, they can be planted directly in the garden after your last frost date. Transplants should be spaced about 6 inches apart in rows that are 12 to 18 inches apart. Dig a hole for each transplant that is deep enough to accommodate the entire root ball, and fill in the soil around the plant. Be sure to firm the soil around the base of the plant to remove any air pockets.

Watering and Fertilising

Leeks need consistent moisture throughout the growing season, so it is important to water them regularly. Water deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather and soil conditions. Avoid overhead watering, as this can lead to fungal diseases. Instead, water at the base of the plant with a drip irrigation system or a watering can.

Leeks are heavy feeders and need regular fertilisation to grow well. Side-dress the plants with a balanced fertiliser every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season. Apply the fertiliser to the soil around the base of the plants, being careful not to get it on the leaves.

Hilling the Soil

To encourage the development of long, white stems, it is important to hill the soil around the base of the leeks. This will prevent the stems from turning green and bitter. Begin hilling the soil when the leeks are about 6 inches tall and continue to hill every few weeks throughout the growing season. Use a hoe or garden fork to mound the soil up around the base of the plants, taking care not to damage the roots or leaves.

Weed Control

Weeds can quickly overtake a leek patch, so it is important to keep the area weed-free. Hand-weed around the base of the plants to avoid damaging the roots. A layer of mulch around the base of the plants can help to suppress weeds and retain moisture.


Leeks are ready to harvest when the stems are about 1 to 2 inches in diameter and at least 6 inches long. Use a sharp knife or garden shears to cut the leeks at ground level. Be careful not to damage the leaves or roots of the neighbouring plants.


Leeks can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Before storing, remove any outer leaves and trim the roots. Wrap the leeks in damp paper towels, and place them in a plastic bag or container. Alternatively, leeks can be blanched and frozen for later use.

WWelsh flagThe leek is a Welsh emblem and is closely associated with Welsh culture and tradition. The origin of the leek as a Welsh emblem is not clear, but there are several stories and legends that explain the connection.

One legend tells the story of a battle between the Welsh and the Saxons in the Seventh century. According to the legend, Saint David advised the Welsh soldiers to wear leeks in their hats to distinguish them from the Saxons. The Welsh soldiers won the battle and the leek became a symbol of Welsh pride and victory.

Another legend tells the story of a Welsh prince named Cadwaladr who was warned of an impending attack by the Saxons. Cadwaladr ordered his soldiers to wear leeks in their hats. The leek served as a symbol of Welsh solidarity and strength, and the Welsh army defeated the Saxons.

The leek is also associated with the Battle of Crecy, which took place in 1346 during the Hundred Years War between England and France. The battle is significant in Welsh history because it was fought by a significant number of Welsh archers who fought on the side of the English army. According to legend, the Welsh archers wore leeks in their hats to distinguish themselves from their English counterparts and to show their allegiance to Wales. This story has been passed down through generations and has become a popular part of Welsh folklore.

While the legend of the leek-wearing archers may be more myth than fact, the leek has been a symbol of Wales for centuries and is still a popular emblem today. The Welsh celebrate St David's Day on 1st March and the leek is often worn as a symbol of Welsh identity and patriotism. The leek is also used in traditional Welsh dishes, such as cawl (a hearty soup) and Welsh rarebit (a cheese and bread dish).

In addition to its cultural significance, the leek is also an important crop in Wales. The Welsh climate and soil conditions are well-suited for growing leeks and the vegetable is an important part of the Welsh agricultural economy. The town of Llantrisant in South Wales is particularly famous for its leeks and hosts an annual leek show where growers compete for the title of best leek.

David Jenkins

Email Hub-UK :