On leeky finds

Trying to *find* reasons to stick around the sunny 85-degree greenhouse this weekend, I espied this leek throwing out little leeklets around its base.  Aha!  I thought.  Time to get a leg up on the new Leek Season.

Not all leeks put out these pearls.  In point of fact, I probably wouldn’t save the seed of one that does…these botanical diversions aren’t terribly welcome if single thick stalks are your gardening goal.  But as you can see the mother stalk is just fine, size-wise.  Mom was growing in a bed of mixed leeks and shallots:  shallots do divide, so I assumed that ground greenery was simply a shallot.  And I would have missed these altogether if I hadn’t decided that my time in the new greenhouse needed to be productive time.  Little Edie was just lying around in the sun, why shouldn’t I?

Why did you wake me up?  Put that camera away!

So I carefully teased the leeklets out of the clayey root ball.  Any roots that got broken got a leaf haircut too (balance being key:  you don’t want the plant to blow itself out supporting those heavy leaves on few roots and vice-versa) and I planted them 2″ apart in two rows.

Okay, that took 10 minutes.  Now what else can I do in here?

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10 responses to “On leeky finds

  1. That is a find, El! I’ve not tried wintering leeks over, though I might have missed a few in 11th hour harvesting last fall, and we’ve had a good snow cover, so we’ll see. Leeks are one of my favorite vegetables, and I think they’re the “secret ingredient” in French cooking. When we see every American garden sporting a proud shock of leeks like in all the French potagers, we’ll know we’ve arrived.

    Hey, it got above freezing here yesterday! Stuff is melting…slowly….

    Cheers~ Brett

  2. Most of our leeks seem to have survived what little winter we have had as well. I am hoping some of them will also have babies that we can transplant. Do these transplants usually end up as bigger leeks because of the head start they have? Someday I am going to have a big leek, I just know it.:)

    • Hi Mike: my experience is the longer the leeks are in the ground the bigger they get, with the one caveat being they WILL go to seed after vernalization (i.e., eat them all by April or they’ll sprout). So yes technically these babies should be bigger than the seeds that haven’t poked through the ground yet when it comes time to harvest them next winter…and of course greenhouse-grown ones are biggest of all. Hope that helps!

  3. Leeks! did you eat the mother leek? I’m hoping shallots are my secret ingredient; although I’m giving leeks another try, they take a long time and haven’t been so successful for me yet.

    Lazing around in the sun is a perfectly acceptable enterprise, I think.

  4. Wow! 85 degrees! Mine is 41 degrees (5 Celcius) at most at the moment… Am envious!

  5. Absolument, Brett! They overwinter here okay but they still grow nicely in the greenhouse (as does everything else). I think what works best for outdoors is simply lots of mulch (leaf mulch then straw mulch works pretty well) so the ground doesn’t freeze (as rapidly) around them. If the snow cover actually stays, you might be fine, and just have to take off the outer 10 leaves or so. Leeks were my Waterloo, frankly, but now I feel nearly professional after having gone through the whole process for years now.

    Mike, now’s the time to get going on them indoors, seeds-wise; do you need any seeds?

    Stef, indeed, I ate Mama, as I am shameless. That, and I have a lot of leeks to eat yet… anyway, I know, it’s so hard for me to just sit. You know exactly what I mean!! Give leeks another try. I don’t think they’re as fussy as onions can be.

    Maria, thanks! Toasty, but it’s not so warm like that in there every day…though it’s sure getting sunnier every day! Glad to hear from another greenhouse lover, too.

  6. Love your blog and photography…..and would love a greenhouse, but know nothing about them. I went back through your greenhouse blog, and got the name of the company you purchased yours from. Can you give me any suggestions on how to “learn more”? Being new to greenhouse stuff….haven’t got a clue. I have grown plants from seeds in my house under plant lights, and am running out of space….and the tomato’s are next! It’s one thing picking out a greenhouse size, but I have no idea of what else is involved and needed….I am aiming for next year.

    • Hi Liz. I am so glad you’re interested in getting a greenhouse! I think you will reap immense benefits from having one. Please look into Eliot Coleman’s books on the subject: he really is pretty no-nonsense and goes as low-tech as possible. You can find them in the library but I think Four-Season Harvest is a definite keeper. Good luck with it!

  7. Hi, I’m wondering why you have hoops over the small beds inside your greenhouse (which are made of larger hoops)? Is there a value in having a greenhouse inside a greenhouse?
    Thanks for advising me!
    Cheryl

    • Hi Cheryl. It’s to make the beds warmer. The temperature just inside the greenhouse can be something like 10-30 degrees warmer than outside (depending on the wind and how much sun we got the day before) but the temperature under the covers (the “other” greenhouses) keeps the ground in the beds even warmer. Eventually they’ll freeze too but this difference is life and death for some of the plants! Look into Eliot Coleman’s books for the method. He’s great.

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