Leeks are closely related to onions but have a sweeter, creamier, more delicate flavor. They are prized by cooks as a flavoring for dishes of all types. They can also be used to make a tasty soup, and are served cooked as a side dish. They take a long time to mature and are usually harvested as a late summer / early fall crop. They tolerate frost and can be left in the ground all winter, even in areas with cold winters. Leeks are very easy to grow.
How to Grow Leeks
Leeks prefer deep, rich soil in full sun. Start seeds 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost in spring. Transplant hardened-off seedlings to the garden after danger of heavy frost has passed.
Set the plants 4 to 6 inches apart in rows spaced 12 to 18 inches apart. When the plants are the size of a pencil begin to mound soil around the base of the plants. Repeat this procedure every few weeks, the below ground stalks will be creamy white and long.
Leeks are ready to harvest when the base of the stalks is 1 inch to 2 inches in diameter. Gently twist the stalks back and forth to loosen them and ease them out of the ground. Cut off the roots and all but 2 inches of the leaves.
Not only are leeks very easy to grow, they can be left in the garden for months and harvested as needed. With a layer of straw or leaves, the plants will do fine through the winter, although it is best to dig them up before they become woody. Days from seed to harvest vary from 98 for Dawn Giant to 130 for Broad London.
Recipes & Storage
Use leeks to make a hot or cold soup, as a flavoring for meat and vegetable dishes, or pureed and served as a side dish or as a stuffing for tomatoes. They can be braised or served cold with a vinaigrette dressing.