“ Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum is a vegetable belonging, along with the onion and garlic, to the Alliaceae family. Also in this species are two very different vegetables: the elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum), grown for its bulbs, and kurrat, which is grown in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East for its leaves. The leek is also sometimes classified as Allium porrum (L.). „
* Prices may differ from that shownMore Offers
I was introduced to growing leeks 4 years ago, I purchased a tray of baby plug plant leeks from Homebase, popped them in the soil and was amazed at how easily they grew.
Leeks are a member of the onion family, they grow happily in most soil conditions and are very versatile in the kitchen. The flavour is milder than most onions and they work really well in soups and stews. The can be chopped at the bottom and the outer leafs removed, then cut into pieces and boiled to soften to have as an side dish, or just boil for 6-7 minutes, then cover with oil and roast in the oven.
Since my initial Homebase purchase, I now grow the leeks from seed. I usually purchase them from Amazon or Ebay as they seem to work out cheaper that way for the amount of seeds in the packet. Usually paying just over a pound delivered for 50 seeds or so. I've also seen them in Aldi for 39p a packet at certain times of the year.
The seeds are then grown inside, in trays on window sills. They can be put straight in the ground but will usually germinate quicker inside or in a greenhouse. I sew them around April in trays. Depending on the variety and conditions they take around 10 to 14 days to germinate.
When the weather warms up a little I start putting them outside to harden off in their trays. After a week or two and I feel totally happy that the frosts are gone, I put them into a well dug soil. A dibber is really useful for this, to make little holes around 10-15cm deep (depending on the size of the baby leeks). They can then be gently pulled from the trays and transplanted to the soil, obviously pushing the soil around to support them. Each one is spaced around 20-30cms apart.
If you have children, transplanting is a great way to get them involved too. They can make the little holes in the ground with minimum guidance, then with a little help, put each leek into the ground or even do it on their own dependent on age. My boys really enjoy doing this and seeing what they planted grow though the summer months.
It's best to keep watered through the drier weather, apparently lack of water means they will be less tender. I've never exercised that theory however and just kept them watered with the rest of the growing fruit and vegetables through the summer. I use a watering can with a rose on when the leeks are small, so the pressure doesn't knock them over.
Leeks should be ready in late summer, but will happily keep in the ground through the Autumn. I've even kept them in the ground during the winter snow and the leeks have still been fine. Overwintering leeks successfully can depend on the variety used.
When it comes to harvest time, if the soil isn't too dry you should be able to just pull the leek out of the ground, if not you can always use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the leak and dig around the area to release it from the ground. They store reasonably well for a few weeks, I find it best to pull up a leek or two when I'm ready to use them for freshness.
If you want to try and get your own seeds from the leeks, leave a few in the ground from the previous year through to the next, during the summer months the leeks will bolt and produce what looks like a large flower head on the top. I've found I needed to put canes alongside them and tie them to the cane for support, they are nearly a couple of meters tall and rather spindly so they definitely needed it. That and the fact that my boys were using them as punch bags, staking them has thankfully put a stop to this. You'll see the dark brown seeds develop in the flower head when they are ready. Just give them a shake in a paper bag to catch all the seeds. I'm hoping next year I'll have enough seeds from ours to save buying any.
Leeks can be quite expensive to buy in the supermarkets, if you have a bit of spare garden or even a deep pot it's worth putting a few in the ground. They'll sit there and happily grow with very little attention required.
At around this time of year, the seasons dictate that the strawberries have all been picked, fruit trees are almost ready to give us their gifts and tomatoes struggle to ripen in the weak British sun, or lack of. If you try to eat seasonally by growing your own, leeks are a plant that can be planted around now for harvesting in early autumn and left in the soil until next spring (when they will flower and go to seed) - they will survive most winters if left alone. Not everyone grows their own leeks, so I will also be writing about how to use them and nutritional value etc for those that buy them all year round from supermarkets.
There's two main ways of doing this, you can either plant the seeds yourself or buy pots of baby leek plants from garden centres which then get separated and planted out individually. To plant from seed, it's better to plant in April to ensure that they are a decent size before the frosts come which will make them dormant until the next spring - although I am planting mine even now in late August. Plant the seeds about a centimetre deep, 15 cm apart and with double that between rows. Keep the area weed free and add compost to the soil every couple of weeks as they like rich soil. When you add the compost to the soil around the leeks, you can pile it around the leeks' stems - this will blanche the stem and make it turn white which tastes sweeter. They should be ready from about September onwards. When harvesting leeks, always dig them out as if you pull them by hand you could snap the leek.
Alternatively, if you've bought a pot of baby leeks that are already growing in potting compost, then very carefully separate them and using a pencil or stick as a dibber, make a hole a few centimetres deep in your soil and push them roots and all into this hole. Use the above spacings for distance between each leek. To separate the leeks before planting out, I dump the pot in a bucket of water to get the compost sodden, then after half an hour I remove the pot, then whilst holding onto the leeks (carefully) I gently swish the ends of the leeks in the water until all the compost has washed off. I find that doing it this way is less damaging to the roots than trying to pry them apart with my sausage fingers.
PESTS AND DISEASES COMMON TO LEEKS
There is nationwide problem with leek moths (or more accurately the larvae of leek moths) that has been ruining peoples' leeks. The best form of prevention is by growing the leeks under a barrier such a fleece or netting so that the moths can't get access to the leeks on which they lay their eggs. If you have had leek moth damage, don't put any part of the affected leeks onto your compost pile as you run the risk of spreading the pupae (the little maggot like hard cased chrysalis thingymajob - biology isn't my strong point sorry) and the problem will just repeat itself. The larvae of these moths have been chomping their way through peoples leeks for the last few years now and the problem is spreading up north - it was initially confined to Southern England.
Another common problem with leeks is rust. As its name suggests, rust shows itself by orange coloured blotches on the foliage and if left will eventually kill the plant. It is a fungal disease and is encouraged to grow in warm damp conditions - so prevent it by having well draining soil and don't crowd your leeks too close together so that damp can remain in the shade caused by closely packed leeks. If you spot rust on your leeks, pull them up and burn, don't compost as this will spread the problem. Some gardeners treat for rust pre-emptively by spraying their crop with an anti fungicide such as copper sulphate, but that's a personal choice and dependant on whether or not you are trying to be a chemical free gardener.
Common varieties in the UK to grow from seed include "Blue de Solaise" (has a blue-grey sheen to the leaves and some people grow this as an ornamental as not only can you eat them, they look fantastic), "Musselburgh" (most people that grow leeks will have had this type - very common) and Pandora (a classic white leek with long stems).
Here's a recipe for a leek and potato soup - the proportions aren't set in stone so feel free to use more or less of an ingredient depending on your taste. Also, we often use milk instead of cream.
5 or 6 leeks, washed and chopped
3 or 4 big potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
Clove of garlic
1 litre of either veg or chicken stock, or can just use water
Small pot of cream
Add the chopped leeks, onion and garlic into a pan of melted butter and sweat them until they start to soften, then add the stock / water and potatoes. Cook until the spuds go soft, then take off the heat and stir in the cream. Dead easy, very tasty, and we find that it freezes better if you use milk instead of cream. Also, it can be liquidised if you prefer soup in that fashion. Try adding some chopped bacon or shreds of ham, it goes very well with this.
Another good way of using leeks is roast them in an oven dish and cover with cheese sauce as a side to a Sunday lunch - leeks and cheese go very well together.
Here's a recipe I used last week - leek and chorizo pie. (Although as a northerner who lives a few short M6 junctions away from Wigan, the home of the pie, I object to calling this a pie as WHERE'S MY PASTRY?).
5 or 6 large peeled potatoes, thinly sliced
3 or 4 chopped leeks
A sliced chorizo sausage
Two finely chopped garlic cloves
A pint of single cream (although we used the cream and didn't like it, might use cheese sauce next time instead)
Grated cheese - you can be posh and use parmesan but I suppose any grated cheese work
In the bottom of a greased casserole dish, throw a handful of chopped leeks and chorizo, scatter a pinch of the garlic then cover with a layer of the sliced potatoes. Repeat this until you have a top layer of spuds and no more ingredients, then add the grated cheese to this top layer of potatoes. Pour in the cream, cover with a lid (or foil if your casserole dish doesn't have one) then put in the oven at 180 for an hour and a half. You can take the lid off for the last 20 minutes or so, but remember you will get blasted by red hot steam when doing this so be careful.
Leeks are high in fibre, low in fat so are useful for weight watching. They also contain vitamins A, C, E and K - and have folic acid and various anti-oxidants. Not to mention the fact they also contain minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium, magnesium and zinc! Makes me wonder if leeks should be prescribed on the NHS! All in all, they are packed with goodness.
Seeds are easy to get hold of in the usual places (garden centres, supermarkets, shops like Wilkinsons etc) and even my local end of the street Spar shop always has washed trimmed leeks for sale in the veg fridge.
If you've got the space, try growing some. They are one of the tastiest vegetables around and are also jam packed full with goodness. Very useful in cooking too, with a mild onion taste which means they go well with lots of different foods. Five stars from me.
I have always grown leeks from plug plants, as it just makes it so much easier. Ultimately you need to earth up soil around the bases of the leeks to blanch the stems, and so to facilitate that I find it easiest to plant my plug plants at the bottom of a trench. Dig the trench about 20 cm wide and 15cm deep. In Auguest/September plant your plug plants at the bottom of the trench and water in well. When they have grown a bit you should be able to earth up around the base, and continue doing this as they grow. When doing this, try and make sure you don't get soil down inside the layers, as this will be in there when you come to harvest and eat them. They should be ready by Feburary time, but the longer you leave them the bigger they will grow. To harvest them, pull the soil way from the base, grip the base and pull straight up.
I absolutely love leeks and have just done a leek and potato soup whichI have just ate, yum yum. Next year I am going to start growing vegetables in my new garden and leeks will certainly be featuring in it!
I love putting leeks in absolutely anything, stews, casseroles, of course soups, lasagne, bolognaise.
My last lot were from Tesco and were about £2.40 for 3 huge whopping leeks, well over a kilos worth, but next year I will eat the ones I plan on growing in my garden.
When storing leeks,I recommend that you keep them in the fridge.
My potato and leek soup is extremely warming and tasty, and I absolutely love making fresh soups because they are so quick and easy.
500g/Half a pound of fresh leeks
500g/Half a pound of potatoes
2 tbsp butter or buttery spread
A clove of garlic or a small squeeze of fresh garlic in a tube
1/4 tsp black pepper and 1/4 tsp salt
2 cups boiling water with 2 chicken stock cubes added
225ml milk or cream, i use either single cream or milk depending on if I've got cream in, either will be suitable.
Chop the leeks lengthways first twice, so essentially quartering it lengthways, then slice up, I find this the quickest and easiest method.
Add butter and garlic to your pan and fry your leeks until lovely, soft and wilted.
Whilst this is gently frying away, peel and cube the potatoes, they do not have to be really tiny though but small enough to make them cook quicker.
When the leeks are done add all the ingredients into a saucepan except the cream or milk, bring to the boil and simmer for about 18 minutes.
Allow to cool then either mash it up a bit with a potato masher or use a hand blender and give it a bit of a blend to your own personal taste, I do not like it completely smooth and leave a few chunky bits in for good measure. Reheat if it has gone too cool. I did not allow mine to cool and blended it straight off the boil, so if you do this be careful!
Add the cream or milk and stir thoroughly and serve, and of course reheat if it is too cool for taste.
This soup freezes very well indeed, do not add the cream or milk but instead allow to go cold and freeze, when serving these soups add the milk or cream upon defrosting once it is ready to serve. Simples.
I give leeks 10 out of 10!!
Organic Leeks are a fabulous winter vegetable, reliable and nutritious when other vegetables are scare. Even better, they are easy to grow, through they must be planted early in the year for a crop the following winter.
+++ How to Grow Organic Leeks +++
Leeks in snow Sow: In a seedbed outside in March or April if the weather remains very cold.
Planting out: When the seedlings are sturdy enough to handle, about pencil thickness, plant them out in rows 30cm (12in) apart with 15cm (6in) between plants in the rows.
1. Make holes, around 15cm (6in) deep, with a dibber.
2. Drop a leek seedling into each hole.
3. Water seedlings with a rose on the watering can to establish the roots in the soil.
Soil will naturally fill the hole over time, which will result in long white stems.
Harvest: Depending on the varieties you sow, leeks can be harvested from August to April. Lift roots carefully with a garden fork.
Clean by removing outer layers, trimming dried tips of leaves and cutting the stem in half from the top of the white section of stem to the tips of the leaves. Rinse this cut under running water to remove trapped soil. Do not over trim the green parts as these are the richest in vitamin A.
If very cold weather is forecast, or if you would like a handy supply of leeks by you back door, why not try the traditional storage method known as heeling in? Dig a trench about 30cm (12in) deep. Place the leeks upright and closely packed together in the hole, and firm the soil around them. Simply pull a leek or two for supper as you pass by, even when the ground is frozen solid.
A very long time ago I promised a fellow Dooyooer I would write about leeks! This followed my smash review on Turnips. Don?t laugh that was about the first crown I ever got! And in the absence of anything else to write about??. I?m just joking! I?ve gone on this healthy eating lark and decided to expand my intake of vegetables past plain old peas and sweet corn. Thing is, I really don?t know what do with a leek, every time I?ve had them they?ve been put with potato?s in a pie or covered in a cheese sauce, not exactly the healthiest of options. I go therefore, on an intrepid journey to find better and different things to do with a leek! Firstly though ,I?m betting your desperate to know a bit more about leeks. How about what they are and how they?re grown. Allium Poorum are a member of the onion family, but regarded to have a milder and slightly sweeter taste, and of course they are long, thin and green, no way you are going to make a mistake there! Originally they were first noted around 3000BC, but apparently go back much further, first spotted in the region from Israel to India and the Mediterranean, first coming to this country with the Phoenician traders. In some areas of course they seem to have become idolised and have their place firmly in history. Who am I talking about? The Welsh of course! Why? I had absolutely no idea, so I found out and decided to pass the knowledge onto you. Breathtaking eh? Anyway, it seems that in 640AD, the Briton King Cadwallader had a few problem with the Saxons, invading his country, carrying off his women and sheep, that kind of thing. In the thing he was mightily peeved off with this and decided to sort out the marauders once and for all! No, not with giant leeks wielded as swords and designed to frighten them away (although they have had this effect on me once or twice!) There was a God-almighty battle and the Welsh stuck a leek or two in their hats so that their own
side would realise who they were and avoid getting their own arms and legs chopped off. Subsequently the Welsh won and the leek has triumphed ever since. But it didn?t become the Emblem of Wales until the mid 16th century and every March the 1st the Welsh display them proudly. Twas even immortalised in a play, Shakespeare no less! Tis is Henry V when Fluellen turns to the triumphant Henry. "Your majesty says very true: if your majesties is remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which, your majesty know, to this hour is an honourable badge of the service; and I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy's day." (Act IV, Scene 7) That?s not the only noticeable figure in history that was fond of a few leeks. Nero ate plenty of them as he believed they improved his singing voice, and of course we all know what happened to him! That famous Vichyssoise, however was created in New York where Yanks haven?t quite embraced them as much as Europe. Some bloke at the Ritz Carlton hotel complained that his leek and potato soup was too hot, so they added milk and it was born! Now you know all that about them I?m sure the brave gardeners amongst you fancy growing them yourself! Growing them seems quite easy. They should be planted in the spring, dig trenches, place the seeds 4-5 inches apart and 1 inch deep. When the shoots appear, every fortnight build the earth around them, this will keep the stems white and upright. They should be ready for harvesting in 4 months, I.e. during the summer to autumn, but before the temperature drops to below 20degrees. Easy eh? But you?re just bursting to try that out! So you?ve grown them, or in my case someone else has and I?ve bought them from Asda. You?ve picked ones that are nice and straight, with a good white bottom, not to big, it means they are over mature. Of cour
se you haven?t bought any that are slightly yellow or feel slimy. You?ve got them, so what do you do with them? First off I?ve got a nice traditional vegetarian recipe from Wales, named Glamorgan sausage and not its not a Linda McCartney, these were invented about a 100 years before she was born.! Glamorgan Sausages- Selsig Morgannwg INGREDIENTS 6 oz (150 g) breadcrumbs 3 oz (75 g) Caerphilly or Cheddar cheese 1 small leek 1 oz (25 g) butter Pinch of dry mustard Chopped parsley and ground black pepper 2 tablespoons plain flour 1 egg Grate the cheese Skin and cut up the leek and fry in the butter until softened Mix the cheese, onion and breadcrumbs together Season with the chopped parsley, ground black pepper and a pinch of dry mustard Separate the egg Use the yolk to bind the mixture Form into sausages and roll in the flour Gently fry until brown and crisp all over. If you are one of those unfortunate mums whose child pretends to throw up anytime you put anything green on their plate this recipe is a rather sneaky way and getting those veggies in without noticing! Cheesy Potato and Leek Pie 4fl oz milk 3 leeks trimmed and thinly sliced 4 potato?s cooked 4oz ricotta or cottage cheese 2 eggs lightly beaten 1 slice whole grain bread, crumbed 4 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley 1) Place milk and leeks in saucepan. Cook over low heat for 8-9 minutes. Mash potato?s with leeks and milk. Beat in ricotta or cottage cheese and eggs. 2) Spoon potato mix into a lightly greased 25cm/10 in pie plate or into 6 individual gratin dishes. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and parsley, sprinkle over the potato pie. 3) Bake for 30-35 minutes or until pie is puffy and golden. And of course I could forget the classic Vichyssoise, perfect for a posh dinner. 4 cups sliced
leeks, white part only 4 cups diced potatoes, old or baking potatoes recommended 6 to 7 cups water 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt or to taste 1/2 cup or more sour cream, heavy cream, or crème fraiche, optional 1 Tablespoon fresh chives or parsley, minced Simmering the soup . Bring the leeks, potatoes and water to the boil in the saucepan. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Purée the soup if you wish. Taste, and correct seasoning. After chilling the soup, you may wish to stir in a little more cream. Taste carefully again, and correct the seasoning. Top each serving with a sprinkle of chives or parsley. And that?s the end of it, I never did find any really healthy things to do with it, but apparently you can mash it like you do with potato?s, so that?s where I?m going! Hope you all found this lovely and interesting and am dashing off to the kitchen. So go on, take a leek!
It;s time to plant up your leeks;the young seeds sown early in the year should be the thickness of a pencil,and ready for transplanting.I find leeks are an easy crop to grow there size will depend on the food and moisture they recieve over the next few months.they prefer to be grown in well drained soil with lots of well rotted organic material.Dip the roots in water before planting this makes it easier to drop the leeks straight into the holes you have dibbed 6ins deep,keep the leeks well watered until they are established. Remember to earth them up regularly as they grow so you get nice long white stems.
As far as irrational fears and phobias go, my morbid and very deep rooted loathing of all things rootlike (i.e. VEG, but I shudder to use the word, it reminds me of middle class women crowding into packed market stalls and rushing away branding a foul smelling cauliflower, so I will refrain from the word, if you have no objection) is a pretty weird one... I don't know what it was, I was going along at about six or seven minding my own business, enjoying getting my gold stars for coming top in a spelling test, when the thorny question of school dinners reared its oh so ugly head above the parapet and wound its spiteful fingers into my happy little life. For some reason, the pink overalled race of weirdoes known as 'Dinnerladies' had a very strange way with much of the food there (apart from chocolate shortbread and peppermint custard, I seem to recall) and they had an extremely tortuous methodology of rendering the thingy (you know what I mean) positively nuclear in its ability to wipe out whole races of people. The days I spent dreading the approach of the ultimate deterrent of CABBAGE filled me with dread and even now strike a dull and unholy terror deep within my very being. From that time on until this very day, I have had a deep and unyielding hatred for vegetables (whisper it soft) and all their works ... and so I come my friends to the Prince of Darkness - the LEEK!!!! Now, when wielded in jovial fashio by Max Boyce as he screams Oggy Oggy Oggy, the leek is a lot less horrific, but laid out on your plate, or worse still half hidden within leek and pork sausages or leek soup they have the propensity to drop a man at fifty paces. There have been times where I have found myself physically retching at the very sight of the unholiest of vegetables and it makes me writhe uncomfortably in my seat even now as I consider their misshapen and oh so evil form, apparently smooth and unyielding on the utside,
but in reality masking that lined sort of skin (the same stuff you get with onions) which is all set to leap upon you and steal your week's housekeeping... Look, I'm reaching the point now where I'm starting to feel a little queasy and very very uneasy at the thought that Mr Leek even now awaits my presence with a spiteful resolve, so I'm going to have to go ... if you've not cottoned on as yet, I DON'T MUCH CARE FOR LEEKS. (Of course, Mrs D will have read this very secret little scribble and will be biding her time until Sunday when she can unleash the unbridled power of La Leek upon me. Think of me as you eat your spuds...