Leek (Allium Porrum), a flat-leaved, bulbous, hardy biennial, is probably a native of the Mediterranean region, where, particularly in Egypt, it has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes since prehistoric time.
Leek, though of the onion family, is differently treated and used. The object in its cultivation is to develop the leaves in such a manner that they become numerous; the flower-stem does not appear before the second year, hence the necessity of growing it to full size the first year. Sow the seed in March in a seed-bed (with slight bottom heat), in drills 2 or 3 inches apart; when large enough, thin out to stand 1 inch apart in the row, as they may attain the thickness of a fair- sized straw. In May or early June the seedlings are transplanted in the open ground; they are then cut half – way down and should also be set deep, so they will begin blanching when they attain a fair size. The soil best suited is a rich, moist, light loam; prior to the transplanting it should be well prepared with well- rotted stable manure, if possible. The plants are generally set in drills 12 to 15 inches apart, and 6 to 9 inches apart in the drills. Shortening both roots and stems is often advised. As the plants grow, the soil should be drawn loosely around the stems and lower leaves to insure blanching. They should be well cultivated, and when growing freely should be earthed up slightly with the hand-cultivator or hand-hoe. Some of the successful gardeners still cultivate them on the celery-trenching system; by this means they can be watered more thoroughly and will attain a much larger size; also can be conveniently left in the trench with slight protection, and taken therefrom for winter use. Care must be taken not to cover too early, as they decay easily, beginning at the end of the foliage; this destroys the appearance. The hardier kinds used for this purpose will blanch yellow down to the so-called stem, which is white to the root. Leeks planted out in May are ready for use in September; the sowings can be made earlier and later to suit the time of maturing, and can be sown in August and September in coldframes and wintered over with slight protection, then transplanted to the open ground in April. The varieties best known to American gardeners are London Flag, Large Musselburgh or Scotch Flag, Giant Carentan, and Large Rouen.
When blanched leeks are not desired, the plants may be cultivated like onions; indeed, except for earthing up, the cultural methods employed for these two crops are identical. Leeks are marketed in bunches like young onions and, for winter use, are stored like celery. As a second crop to follow early cabbage, spinach, and the like, they are in general favor with market-gardeners. In soups and stews the rank odor disappears, leaving a mild and agreeable flavor.
- Allium ampelopresum (findmeacure.com)
- Types of Onions (brighthub.com)
- Recipe: Potato-Leek Frittata (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Gardening week ahead: Leek problems (telegraph.co.uk)
- Potato Leek Soup (tammyheff.wordpress.com)