It doesn’t often happen, but on occasion, those plants that you sacrifice for their seeds give you gifts other than seeds. It’s certainly true with leeks.
Bag of seedheads along with browned-out, unpromising stalks
Sure: let that beautiful green lance of leaves go to seed for you. It shoots up a thick center leaf in March or April of its second year. There goes that edible stalk, as the plant now has other plans, and the stalk becomes woodier by the day. A seed head will appear in mid June, a gigantic lollipop of a blossom, changing colors from purple to white to green to brown. It’s a veritable firework of bloom, alternating on and off, pollinating itself as it goes. Eventually, in August or so, the seeds are all uniformly brown, and the five foot tall stem will begin likewise to brown and thin out. Time to get out the clippers, the bag, and…the second meal plan for that leek!
Peel away some of the outer leaves at the base, and voila, pearls
These little bulbs found at the stalk of the plant are called leek pearls. Genetically identical to the parent plant, they can be planted and grown for seeds too if the parent plant should fail on you. But honestly, you should be more greedy. These pearls are just like they sound: crisp-crunchy, mellow leeky bulblets. Elephant garlic is actually a leek grown for its bulb-forming, not leaf-forming, potential; leek pearls are similar to that, yet mellower somehow. Happier.
They need to be scrubbed, but what a feast. The one at the far left will be replanted, as it’s sprouting.