Planting Leeks

I’ve been impatient (yep, it’s still a problem!) for the second planting of Green Arrow peas to be finished. There was empty space in the potager’s beds opened up by the harvest of all the shallots and garlic, but I won’t follow shallots or garlic with another allium. Finally, the heat made the peas gasp and fall into decline, and I decided to abandon those few remaining pods at the top of the plants and pulled the vines. After all, there are 3rd and 4th plantings coming on, and still peas from 2019 in the freezer, even as new packages of the 2020 crop are added.

Digging a trench all the way to the bottom of the bed…

So, once the peas were out, I dug deep trenches to the bottom of the raised beds and planted leeks. These are French Baby “Primoro” leeks (from Renee’s Garden Seeds) that I started from seed on February 25. (As an aside here, that’s nearly a month later than in the past two years, which was when I began growing leeks. The timing was based on reading blogs from other gardeners in similar zones. However, this year I had a “light bulb” moment. “Why am I seeding these so early, having them take up space in the basement and require tending for 4 entire months, only to have pot-bound starts because they can’t go into the ground until the peas come out? Why not start them later? And in fact, I’m going to delay seeding for next year’s crop until the third week in March. I think the transplants will be about the same size, but less pot bound! Sad that it took me 2 years to figure that out!) I’ve grown them so successfully now for 2 years. Other locations can grow baseball-sized leeks, but a) I can’t; b) they won’t do that well here in central Indiana; and c) with only two in the family I don’t need leeks that big and d) I don’t like having to dig a really deep trench! I’m old!

Filling the trench with a mixture of soil dug out and compost.

I’m not sure why the soil in bed 3c is so hard and dense. All the soil in the potager’s beds came from the same soil company, and for the most part it is lovely, especially after 5 years of adding kitchen waste in a trench method in the “off season” and lots of compost from the bins, but for some reason this bed is more like concrete than any of the others. I should go back in my journals and check the bed’s history, but I suspect it was just the load of soil I got. Two of my mother’s beds are the same, and occasionally I shared loads. So, I brought two big pots of compost from my compost piles to mix in with the soil as I planted the leeks, and mulched them with compost after planting. First row done! Two more to go.

I took out 3 big pots of “hard” soil in the process. I’ll mix these in a wheelbarrow with lots of compost, and use them in other beds, and to fill in the trenches as the leeks grow. Eventually, the soil will reach the top of the beds, and the leeks will grow fat and thick. I harvest off and on after a good frost, but dig most of them before the ground freezes too deep. I haven’t successfully been able to leave leeks in the soil for a really late winter harvest, but I leave a half-dozen in the ground each year as a trial. It’s worth a try, since I have a ridiculous number of plants (96!) for two people. I think there’s lots of leek and potato soup, leek pie, and French onion soup in our future!


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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11 Responses to Planting Leeks

  1. Peg says:

    Wow, your garden is so beautiful, it puts mine to shame. I’m still waiting (yes, impatiently) for hot weather to arrive so my things will grow. For some of them it’s too late as the earwigs have eaten the tender young leaves up. I’m sure that in the middle of winter, you will be so glad your garden produced so well.


    • carolee says:

      I’ll have to look up earwigs. That’s a new one to me, so maybe we don’t have them here. We certainly have plenty of other leaf-eaters though! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I planted my leeks out too soon and lost them to the drought. Ah well, there’s always next year!


  3. Busy lady as usual! I had never eaten a leek until I met my husband three years ago….and he made potato leek soup!! We enjoy them in the winter also, he plants direct, and our weather allows for them to stay in well into February, but they are only tennis ball size or a bit smaller. It’s fun to still be picking from the gardens through Winter!


    • carolee says:

      There is a leek pie recipe my daughter sent that I want to try, but we use a lot of them in potato leek soup, too. Sometimes I wish I could garden through the winter, but right now, I’m already looking forward to a little rest-time just reading and perusing seed catalogs!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Artisan says:

    I agree with you about timing. I know our climate’s very different from yours (at least out of doors!), but I’ve had excellent results sowing leeks in seed trays in our polytunnel in mid-April, transferring them to a seed-bed outdoors in late May, and finally planting them out in well-manured soil in mid-July. I’ve just planted out six rows of 30 seedlings, so we shouldn’t go short of leeks this winter!


  5. Heather F. says:

    This is a little bit of a tangent, but what is the trench method you’re using for kitchen waste? I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with mine, and I don’t have a great space for a compost pile.


    • carolee says:

      I use the trench method mainly in the “off season” after frost until spring planting time, whenever the ground isn’t frozen too solid to dig because during the growing season, I need all my growing space. But, during the off season, I dig a trench to the very bottom of a raised bed, piling the dirt along one edge. When my kitchen compost bucket gets full, the contents are poured into the trench and enough dirt is pushed in to cover it. This continues until the trench is filled and covered entirely, then another trench is dug. Sometimes I dig trenches ahead in several beds when the weather is good, knowing that there will be days when it’s not. Covering the compost helps keep critters from digging around in it, and also helps it break down faster. Come spring, I have lovely, enriched, loose soil filled with goodness for new plants. DO follow the basic rules of what goes into the compost bucket…no meat or meat scraps, bones, or fats or you’ll have rats, possums, raccoons, and other rascals coming in and once they realize there’s food, they’ll keep coming back for your produce as well! It’s a great method to enrich soil if you are adding a new bed or garden area in-ground, too. Happy growing!


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