Saturday, 26 April 2014

Transplanting leeks

You may perhaps recall that I have committed myself to growing more Autumn / Winter vegetables. With this in mind, I have got some leeks on the go. They are a variety called "Toledo", which is a late-season type, ready for harvesting between November and February. It is also claimed to be very hardy, and have good resistance to bolting. I have only grown Leeks once before, not very successfully, so I am trying hard to do better this time.

I originally sowed the seeds three to a pot on 1st March, and they germinated very well. They had grown to a size where I felt they needed to be transplanted and separated, and I also felt that the compost in which they were sown was probably exhausted. It had developed a rather unpleasant sticky black surface.

I decided to put them into the tall Elmlea pots, recently vacated by the tomato plants. Having washed the pots thoroughly I filled them with fresh general-purpose compost. I then gently tipped out each pot of 3 leeks and separated them. Some of them had very long roots.

I used my home-made dibber (a 6" length of bamboo, sharp at one end and square at the other) to make a deep hole in the compost, and then slipped a leek seedling into the hole, carefully easing it into place with the dibber, before backfilling the hole with a little more compost.

Each leek now has a place of its own, with lots of room to grow, as well as a good depth of compost into which to put their roots. When the job was complete I gave them all a good watering to settle them in.

I originally sowed 3 seeds per pot in each of 12 pots, so I was a bit surprised to end up with 42 leeks instead of 36! There were a few very small leeks in amongst the others, so I suppose their seeds must have somehow slipped in un-noticed. This is the main batch (30):

But being the person I am, I also kept the spares, even the four very tiny ones - just in case of casualties before planting-time!

The 4 tiny ones are in the bigger blue-and-white pot, at left!

So here they all are, lined up next to the Brassicas which are also waiting their turn:

Just behind the seedlings are the last of my over-wintered Endives, some of them under cloches, and in the background are the new season's lettuces (again, some protected by cloches).

I am going to leave the leeks to grow to approximately the size of a pencil before planting them into their final positions in one of the raised beds. I haven't yet decided exactly how many I will plant, but I don't think I'll have room for 42 of them! To do well, I imagine that leeks need to be about a foot apart. Is that right, do you think?

To be continued...


  1. do you puddle your leeks in when planting Mark

  2. I haven't grown leeks for years. And since I wasn't very successful at it, I don't think I'm the one to give advice.

  3. You have a very different way of planting leeks to us. We sow a batch of seeds - lots - into a big pot, When they are big enough these are pulled apart and each one dropped into a hole made with a dibber so just the top of the leaf shows. The hole is filled with water which settles the little leek and then it is on its own. We plant our about 15cm/ 6" apart.

    1. Sue, I am planning to do the latter part of the procedure just like you do. I just wanted to put each leek into a separate container because I felt that the first ones were too shallow. Remember that I will probably only be able to grow about 16 leeks all told - not the big numbers that you grow - so I can afford to do things in a more "detailed" way!

  4. I plant leeks the same way as Sue normally - this year they are still in the seed tray and don't look very happy they don't seem to have grown much at all - maybe I should just transplant them anyway - not sure if it's too late to start again. I grew a few in a trough last year and they did pretty well so now I don't have my plot may well have to do the same again this year.

  5. This gives me a little inspiration, I've wanted to grow leeks for years but never have. I actually really like leeks but we usually get them at the market. Is it too late for me to try this year?

    1. I would think that there is still time to sow leeks. There are many varieties available and there is bound to be one suitable for later sowing. After all, it's still only April, and leeks are a Winter veg!


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