Long Standing Leeks

Leeks in snow

During the big snowfall in February, I harvested my leeks.  I can’t believe I’m saying this! I harvested my own leeks, with a foot of snow on the ground. What a marvelous crop this is, growing steadfastly through last year’s cool spring, brief summer heat, autumn rains and two snow storms.  So when I say ‘long standing’ leek, I mean that literally.  I planted leek starters from the nursery last spring. I put them in front of my climbing roses, since I have limited areas of sun and must use all available real estate in the pursuit of more food in the garden.

Leeks are also heavy feeders and need good drainage, so the rose bed seemed a perfect spot with its frequent amendments of manure, compost, and organic fertilizer blends.  I was lucky that the deer didn’t bother them on their way to the rose course, but I’m advised that leeks are often on their menu, so protection may be needed if deer graze your garden.

Visually the combination was very pretty, since I have a row of Stipa tenuissima along the driveway edge, falling in blowsy soft billows, then the erect 2’ stems of strappy green leek, and then the roses climbing on the fence.  Growing veggies amongst ornamentals is a feast for the eyes as well as a delicious way to enjoy fresh, home-grown food.

Don’t believe what they say about leeks needing a trench to form the white stems, I just planted at ground level, and they had lovely firm and clean necks, tall and sturdy. This year I’ll plant seeds rather than nursery starts, for more variety and lots more plants; there are so many recipes I want to try.

In Linda’s book she mentions some varieties that are hardy for winter; one is Bandit. For summer harvest Varna is the variety to start now; it is not winter hardy.  Both are from West Coast Seeds, available at the nursery.  I’ll plant them this week, indoors. I have a simple grow light suspended in my laundry room, and now is the time to start my crops for summer and next winter.

I can almost smell that Leek and Potato soup simmering on the stove…