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Growing leeks


by Pippa Greenwood

Most of my favourite crops have performed extremely well, with good yields of delicious, fat vegetables. But, I have to admit, the leeks have been very disappointing.


LeeksThis has been a very productive year on my veg plot. Most of my favourite crops have performed extremely well, with good yields of delicious, fat vegetables. But, I have to admit, the leeks have been very disappointing.  I’ve never known such a miserable, skinny crop. Is it just me that’s been unlucky this year? Eager to find out, I recently took to driving very slowly past the local allotments, to get a glimpse of the leeks there!

Without wishing to tempt fate, at least my crop hasn’t been affected by leek moth. More and more gardeners have been asking about this small but potentially devastating pest at recordings of Gardeners’ Question Time, and at talks I have given.

The caterpillars of the moth cause horrible, discoloured patches on the leek foliage, stunted growth and sometimes they tunnel into the stems. (They can also tunnel into onions bulbs.) A disaster for leek lovers such as myself.

This year, in an attempt to outwit the moth, I planted my leeks in a more out-of-the-way spot than usual. I also covered one plot with fleece: if the adult moths were about this would have prevented them from laying their eggs in the leeks in the first place.

I have a feeling it was the less-than-ideal, rather shady new spot and the fleece that led to such a pathetic, underwhelming yield. So it looks as if the leek moth got me in the end, albeit indirectly!

How have your leeks performed this year?



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Gardeners' World Web User 03/11/2010 at 10:56

I also planted my leeks without thinking about it, in the shade of my runner bean wigwam and the crop is not so good this year.

Gardeners' World Web User 03/11/2010 at 12:04

you would be better not to plant leeks or any of the onion family near beans as the smell prevents the bees sussing out your bean flowers and you could have poor pollination. Sorry about your leeks this year, Pippa. I skipped them this year as my freezer still has a glut of leek and potato soup from last year but the self-sown ones look very healthy. My productive garden was designed for a family of nine, which we used to be, but now I am on my own I keep over-producing - so hard to adapt - and i don't get the same satisfaction from a bunch of my own flowers. My gardening "Bible" tells me that leeks will only grow well if they have uninterrupted growth and last year we had a late spring followed by a drought of about five weeks so the conditions were very poor for leeks.

Gardeners' World Web User 03/11/2010 at 13:51

we have chickens in our garden and use the compost to mix with the earth.our potatoes are like giants and the leeks are on the large size as well.no moths here but very large worms.

Gardeners' World Web User 03/11/2010 at 19:17

more a question than a comment. Hosta in a big pot..splendid.. now that they are whilting. how do I treat them.

Gardeners' World Web User 03/11/2010 at 20:09

I did the same with my leeks with the same sort of results but my bean wigwam I planted in the sun and had continous beans--best I've ever had. The caterpillers made short work of my brassicas though despite picking them off every day

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