How To Grow Leeks

Leeks

Please see individual varieties for specific product information, but in general the growing information will be the same for all leeks. The majority of the information on this page was provided by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service Leeks Home Gardening Series; download the complete pdf file with FAQ’s for more information or click here to visit the website.

Average Days To Maturity: 120-150 days

Distance Between Rows: 1 foot

Spacing Between Plants: 6 inches

When To Plant: Charley recommends planting your leeks 2-3 weeks before the last frost in the spring.

Planting Tip: To help keep dirt from being trapped between the leaves, place a paper towel or toilet paper core over the transplant. Over time the cardboard will disentigrate but the leek will be cleaner when harvested.

There are two methods for planting leeks.  Some will dig a 6 inch furrow and plant the young plants at the bottom. About every two weeks fill in the furrow with a little dirt to blanch the stem and keep it tender.  The other method is to plant them at ground level and then mound the dirt as they mature. To save room in the garden, plant your transplants where the leaves will grow out into the rows.  This allows them to be planted closer together.

Preparation and Care: When preparing your garden soil prior to planting, incorporate compost or fertilize with a 10-10-10 fertilizer at .4 pounds per 10 feet of row.

Weeds can rob the soil around the leeks of nutrients and water which will inhibit growth.  Mulch will help to keep moisture in and weeds at bay and can help keep the roots cool in warmer weather. Water more often in dry weather.

Watering: Water your garden once a week with a 8-12 hour soaking. This will allow the soil to absorb an adequate amount of water and also limit the time you spend each week watering.  If you use a sprinkler to water, do this during the day so that the plants will have some time in the evening to dry out before dark. This will limit the chances of disease. If you use a soaker hose, you can water at night. Watering with a soaker hose at night is best as it limits the amount of water lost to evaporation and keeps the plants dry which limits the chances of disease. During dry periods you may need to water more often (every 4-5 days), and watering at night is important in water conservation during droughts.

Fertilize: Apply a nitrogen based fertilizer in mid season after planting or thinning.  Place fertilizer about 6 inches to the side of the plant and water it into the soil.

Harvesting: The stem should be harvested when it reaches 1-2 inches in diameter and 6-10 inches long. Gently pull the stem out of the ground or gently dig around the stem and then pull it free.

Fresh leeks can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.  Place a plastic bag loosly around the white stem to help retain moisture. Leeks can be blanched for a couple of minutes and then frozen. This might result in loss of flavor and texture but will keep for about 3 months (some say they will keep longer). Another method is to store them horizontally in a box between layers of damp sand and in a cool dark location.

Tip: Split the leek horizontally to help gain access and rinse dirt away.

Common Insect Problems

Common Disease Problems

  • Purple Blotch (Alternaria porri)
  • Botrytis – most often a problem in damp weather or when overwatered.

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