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.
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!
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!