Leek, allium porrum – cultivation and care of leek plants

Leek is rich in vitamins, minerals, strengthens the immune system and purifies the body – just for the heck of it, it does even more for the human organism. Eerily low in calories, too, that sounds like at least three times a week leeks for anyone who wants to get or stay slim, smart, beautiful and healthy. Garden owners can grow the best leeks and eat them fresh with maximum healthy ingredients – what are you waiting for, growing and caring for the leek plant is really easy and requires little labor.

PROFILE

  • Allium porrum is a leek plant of the genus Allium
  • Because of the "porrum" (lat. forward, because of the vigor?) it is called leek
  • In many regions of Germany, however, also leek (which comes from "curl")
  • Of 800 species of Allium worldwide, just 20 grow in our country
  • In addition to leeks, it is known mainly onions and garlic
  • Most alliums give off allicin, which is what makes the typical leek smell
  • Leeks are basically easy to care for
  • Also, staking the leeks is only complicated if you want long white stalks
  • However, most of the healthy ingredients are in the leek greens…

Location

Leeks are a group of varieties of field leeks, which originate from the Mediterranean region, so they are accustomed to warmth.

To thrive, it needs a soil temperature of at least 15 °C and thus a location that is as warm and sunny as possible. Since part of the leek grows in the ground, it can be planted quietly in the full sun. But leeks are not particularly demanding, they still grow in a location that is in the sun for only a few hours each day.

The soil

Garden soil

To the soil, however, the leek has quite demands, it is one of the strong eaters. So it thrives in nutrient-rich soils, which should otherwise be well-drained, deep and loose, and can have any pH between 6.0 and 7.5.

If you are going to plant the first leek in spring, you can prepare the soil already in autumn. Sow green manure, z. B. A legume mix, or spread well-rotted manure (from cattle or pigs), a little wood ash and lime, or apply purchasable organic complete fertilizer such as Bio-Vegetal or Bio-Phytoperls.

Then, just before planting the leeks in the spring, you can add some compost to the bed, this works very well if you make the furrows (about this in a moment).

The leek year

Leeks can be grown (and therefore harvested) throughout the year, here is an overview throughout the year:

  • In January, the first leeks can be sown for pre-growing, in the greenhouse (or on the windowsill)
  • When sowing seeds, always make sure they are fresh; leek seeds do not last longer than one to two years
  • At the end of March, in warmer German regions, the first purchased or pre-pulled seedlings can be planted outdoors or in the cold frame
  • In colder areas, you should wait until after the Ice Saints in early/mid-May, until the ground is actually guaranteed to always be around 15 °C warm
  • Leeks for fall growing can be sown directly into beds in early April
  • Winter leeks are sown in late July to early August.

Plant young plants

The part of the leek that is harvested white must develop under the ground, and for this it needs special treatment, already at planting:

  • The young plant is a kind of miniature leek, a stalk with stubby white roots
  • These fine roots sit in the soil and supply the rod with nutrients
  • The roots are sunk into the soil, with the green leek above the ground
  • Before planting, the roots should be shortened to 2, 3 cm, the leaves are also trimmed back slightly
  • The leek now grows upwards towards the sun
  • Without special treatment when planting, it would simply grow bigger and bigger
  • With plenty of greenery above ground, but no white leeks in the ground, by itself into the ground it does not grow
  • Therefore the white shafts are extended by the gardener
  • First, the seedlings are placed in trenches at least 15 cm deep
  • When the harvest is imminent, the plants are mounded with soil
  • So they develop long white shafts
  • Fast-growing early leeks are mounded soon after planting, and can be harvested as early as June
  • Autumn leeks and winter leeks are mounded as soon as the stalks start growing
  • Rows should be spaced 30 to 40 cm apart, the more nutritious the soil the closer
  • The distance from one leek to the other need not be more than 10 to 15 cm
  • As soon as they are in the ground, the young plants should be watered vigorously

Crop rotation and mixed cropping

Leeks leave a lot of root residue in the soil; they are good for soil structure. Its valuable ingredients are also good for the soil, which is why leeks are popular as a preceding crop and planted in mixed crops. Recommended neighbors "around the leeks":

Vegetable patch

  • Second crop for early potatoes
  • Previous crop for carrots
  • Interseeding or. Undersowing lamb’s lettuce
  • Good neighbors: strawberries, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, oregano, parsley, radishes, lettuce, celery, spinach, tomatoes
  • Bad neighbors: beans, peas, garden cress, kale, garlic, chard, beet, chives, onions

Watering

Leeks benefit from even soil moisture and use quite a bit of water in summer. But it should never be too wet, compacted soil should be provided with drainage before cultivation.

You can save water if you plan an undersowing, which acts like a ground cover, or mulch the leeks, both of which keep the moisture in the soil (and suppress unwanted foreign growth at the same time).

Fertilizing

Leek as a heavy grower has a high nitrogen requirement, soil preparation and compost in spring have already been mentioned. About a month after planting follows a top dressing with nitrogen received, organic fertilizer in the form of horn shavings, plant manure, compost, manure.

Eight weeks later the leek gets nitrogen again, late in the year also gladly a little wood ash with potassium. The winter leeks are then autumn/winter no longer fertilized.

Other maintenance

Since leeks need to be well watered, bare soil around them should be regularly loosened by hoeing.

If leeks are grown too cold, they tend to shoot, the freer they are allowed to grow, the more so. The winter leek, which remains in the bed, of course, it becomes too cold in any case, but also hardy varieties "suffer" from repeated freezing and thawing in that they then want to come to flowering and seed formation particularly quickly in the spring to ensure the continuation of the "next generation" – not in your sense, if you want to harvest as long as possible.

With early leeks, pay attention to the soil temperature, if you can foresee a cold snap with late leeks, cover (brushwood, leaves, fleece) or pile up. If you can not prevent shooting once in the first year, just leave him – and enjoy the pretty flower, from which you later obtain seeds and sow new leeks.

Harvesting, propagation

Leek cut

Leeks grow naturally as biennials; in the first year, flowering should be prevented in order to harvest the thickest possible stem. When harvesting in spring/summer, you can choose:

You can "dig" and try to harvest as much as possible of the white leek (which would break off somewhere if simply pulled).

If you’re more into the healthier greens anyway, and so you’ve chosen the "easy leek culture" variety, where the leeks aren’t too deep, you can just cut them off at ground level. The rest stays in the floor, sprouting more little sticks that are particularly delicate.

Winter leeks remain in the bed (with all foliage) through the winter and can be harvested until spring on frost-free days. It continues to grow in the frost-free winter and then at some point at the beginning of spring goes into bloom, from then on the upper part is theoretically still edible, but of very tart taste and straw-like. Better than their harvest is to have elsewhere already ripening the next leek and let it bloom and produce seeds.

Frequently asked questions

Top dressing is recommended for leeks – what is it, please??
Top dressing is nothing more than normal fertilizing, it is only called top dressing if (and because) the fertilizer is applied to the already growing plants during the growing season, the plants get the fertilizer quasi "on their heads" (actually not, the fertilizer is applied to the soil as much as possible, even organic fertilizer could otherwise lead to leaf burn in combination with water). The counter term is basic fertilization, which takes place before plants are planted.

Are there several varieties of leeks?
Oh yes, the Allium porrum or A. ampeloprasum initially forms its own variety group of the field leek, the "Allium ampeloprasum (porrum) leek group". Thus he has first of all interesting sibling species, the pearl onions, the mild giant garlic or the Kurrat which can be used as a salad, all of them are also available as whole variety groups. Then in the group of varieties of leeks there are many different varieties, high-yielding summer varieties with a short cultivation period, particularly disease-resistant varieties, reliable cold-tolerant autumn and winter varieties. Can not be explained in detail enough in the context of this article, but a study of the different leek varieties (keyword: Allium ampeloprasum of the wild form = eternal leek) or at all the other Allium species (keywords: Allium siculum = up to 1 m high Sicilian honey leek, Allium hierochuntinum = shallot) is definitely worthwhile.

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