The new year’s growing has begun. Leek seedlings, sown two weeks ago, have raised their crooked leaves and are decorating the windowsill with thin green stripes.
Leeks are a must for any allotment – one of the few veg you can harvest through winter and into the spring (we still have plenty to pull), they’re easy to grow and suffer gardening fools gladly. Last year’s leeks were left too long in their seed strays (and weren’t potted on before planting out), went into the ground closer together than recommended and developed rust. But they still all came through. If you’re after a hefty girth to your alliums then more attention is required but on our plot size doesn’t matter and our narrow stems suit us just fine.
And what’s more, with plenty of seeds left to sow from our £1.49 pack they’re an absolute bargain.
So here’s our lazy gardener’s ‘how to sow leeks’ guide…
• Start them off indoors in January or February.
• Fill a tray with seed compost and liberally scatter the tiny seeds on top.
• Cover with another layer of compost (around 1/4 inch is recommended).
• Water and pat down the soil.
• Wrap in a plastic bag or clingfilm to keep in the warmth and moisture.
• Keep warm until germination (ours go on the top of the freezer but you could opt for an airing cupboard or draught free windowsill).
• Once they’re all up they need maximum light so transfer to a windowsill, remove plastic and keep watered.
• Rotate the tray regularly so they don’t lean in one direction towards the light, and if they get straggly trim with scissors to around three inches high.
If you want supersized leeks then you’ll need to pot on when their true leaves show and give them all sorts of love and attention. We’ll just wait until late spring and gradually harden them off before planting out (‘dibbing in‘) when they start to put on some bulk. They’ll probably get a burst of chicken pellets prior to planting for something extra nutritious to chomp on.
Alliums hate weeds so try to keep on that chore as best you can, and if you can be bothered they’ll appreciate an occasional feed (such as fish blood and bone), but otherwise they’ll be fine left to their own devices.
Seeds sown: Leek ‘Musselburgh’, Johnsons Seeds
And we’ll pick out an alternative variety to sow in February