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How to grow leeks from seed

You will need

  • Leek seeds
  • Multi-purpose compost
  • Pots or seed trays
  • Garden fork
  • String
  • Broom or large dibber
  • Watering can
  • Horticultural fleece and pegs
Do it: February to June
Takes just: 30 minutes, to sow the seeds

Overview

Home-grown leeks are far superior to those bought in shops. They are very easy to grow from seed, and if you sow at intervals from February to June you can harvest from late August, through winter until the following February.

Like most other vegetables, you will get a heavier crop if you grow leeks in a well-lit position, with soil that has been improved by the addition of plenty of organic matter.


How to do it

Sowing leeks seeds in pots and seed trays

1Fill pots or seed trays with good quality, multi-purpose compost and firm gently. Scatter the seed thinly on the surface, cover with a few millimetres of compost, water and keep moist.


Potting on leek seedlings

2Pot on seedlings individually into small pots or do it the 'cheat's' way: remove the pot and pull the rootball apart, and place it in a larger part-filled pot and add compost between the seedlings.


Forking over soil with a garden fork

3Fork soil to remove all debris and large stones and break up any large clods. If necessary, incorporate some well-rotted manure or garden compost to improve soil texture and fertility.


Transplanting leek seedlings into prepared holes in the ground

4Transplant the leeks into the ground when they're about 15-20cm tall. Use a broom handle to make holes 15-20cm deep and about 15cm apart. Leave about 30cm between rows.


Watering leek seedlings

5Carefully lower one leek plant into each hole, twisting each between your fingers to get the roots in. Check the roots are in the bottom of the hole and water well so soil is washed in. Cover the crop with well-pegged-down horticultural fleece.


Harvesting mature leeks

6On a heavy soil, use a fork to lift leeks when harvesting. On light soils you may be able to pull direct. For best freshness and flavour, lift leeks from the veg plot when you need them.


Adam's tip

Keep the ground weeded to reduce competition for water and nutrients, and water regularly if the weather is dry, to prevent plants running to seed
Keep an eye out for leek rust - bright orange, raised pustules on the outer leaves. This can do a lot of damage in wet years. Avoid watering the leaves and use resistant varieties
Cover the developing crop with well-pegged-down fleece from the moment you plant it. This avoids infestations of leek moth, whose caterpillars cause foliage dieback and low cropping



Discuss this project

Talkback: How to grow leeks from seed
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Mike Brown 28/02/2013 at 19:47

How long does the fleece stay on?

sotongeoff 28/02/2013 at 20:06

My guess that is to stop birds pulling the leeks out of the ground until they are rooted??-so not long-have to admit have never heard of this before

SFord 01/03/2013 at 15:17

I always grow mine in modules and wait until they are a few inches tall before dibbing a deep hole and popping them in (watering only, not filling in with earth

Mike Brown 06/03/2013 at 15:08

How long do you need to leave the fleece on?

chilli lover 06/03/2013 at 19:32

Mike - I start mine off in the greenhouse (unheated) in trays and pot on until a suitable time for planting out  - mine don't get fleeced. Are you sowing yours direct?

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