Growing Food With Sharon Hanna
Start leeks now using these easy-to-follow instructions:
Now through early May is a peachy time to start leeks from seed. Sow thinly in seedling containers or pots—and by thinly, I mean no more than 12–16 seeds in a 4-inch pot or 4-by-6-inch plastic cell pack. Use seed-starter mix; do not use soil from your own garden.
Try to sow seeds evenly spaced. This is never easy, but the more space between seeds, the longer they’ll be able to stay in the pots and the larger they can grow. Barely water (as usual), and give them bottom heat, which all members of the onion family love, especially at first. (They prefer cooler temperatures after, but warm at the beginning—another similarity to human infants ☺)
Expect your leeks to take a while to germinate. When they do emerge, they come out as cute little bent over grassy seedlings which finally unfold and grow straight up, with the seed stuck to the end. Bringing them indoors and outdoors—out if the weather is warm, inside to your kitchen in the evenings—will make them grow faster.
Leeks are heavy feeders. If you have a pinch of alfalfa meal, kelp meal, etc. add some of that, or water with liquid kelp or fish once they get larger. Transplant to LARGE containers (they won’t work in small ones, in my experience anyway) or to good rich soil in at least half a day of sun.
Refer to the West Coast Seeds catalogue or the Internet for transplanting instructions.
Leeks do great things for the soil—making it “friable,” which is another word for well-worked and luscious with lots of air spaces to hold oxygen, which is good for plant roots. They’ll also grow in less than perfect areas such as ones with part sun. They will not grow in heavy shade or in the dark.
Give leeks a try this year. Many will overwinter on the coast. For fall and winter use, start more in early June.
Read more at Gardenwise Online.