Leeks are a delicious vegetable that can be especially useful when a variety is grown that can be harvested over the winter when there is little else in the vegetable garden. They take a long time to grow but take up less space in your garden than many other crops.

Growing leeks:

If you sow leek seeds successionally between February and June you can harvest from late August right through until the following February. Earlier seeds should be sown indoors and while you can direct sow seeds from March or April outdoors, most gardeners will have more success if seeds are planted in pots and then transplanted outside later.

Like most vegetables, you will have a larger and better crop if the leeks are planted in direct sunlight. Soil should be fertile, with plenty of organic matter. Scatter seeds over your compost in pots indoors and wait for germination. Keep the compost moist. When the leeks are shoots like grass, around 10cm in height, separate the root ball and pot on, giving each seedling extra space. When the seedlings are almost the width of a pencil and about 15cm tall, they can then be planted outside where they are to grow.

When transplanting leeks, first make holes with a dibber, broom handle or similar, then gently pop a leek in each one, twisting gently to make sure that the roots are in the bottom of each hole. The holes should be around 15cm apart, with about 30cm between rows. Fill the holes with water and allow the soil to gently fall around each leek, giving them room to grow.

Make sure that there are no weeds competing with the growing leeks and be careful not to accidentally weed out the leeks themselves, which can look just like grass. Keep the leeks well watered during dry periods.

Use a fork to harvest leeks to avoid breaking them off, especially if you have a clay soil that is on the heavier side.

Why grow leeks in the garden?

As an allium, leeks can be a good companion plant as they will repel or confuse a number of common pests in the vegetable garden. They can aid a number of other crop bearing plants, from fruit trees to brassicas to carrots.

Leeks will be fine left in the ground throughout the winter and can be pulled as and when they are needed in the kitchen.  

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Allium porrum