These tall, stately onion relatives are known for their function in soups, but savvy cooks add them to other dishes too. They’re handsome plants that are worth raising in your autumn or spring garden, but plan your own garden area with them in mind. They take at least 90 days to grow, and that’s just for the baby leeks; otherwise you’re looking at four months to more than half of the year. You’ll also need to always mound soil around them to keep the lower part of the stalk white. When you do harvest, then there’ll be a bare place in the backyard. But they love the cooler weather and also can deal with the cold.
More: The way to grow cool-season veggies
When to plant: due to the long growing season, beginning with seedlings is preferable. Should you want to increase leeks from seed, then start about six weeks sooner than you want to set them out. They are truly fall veggies when it comes to planting date. You can set them out on the first frost date in locations where summers are mild. Otherwise set out them in the autumn so they will be older in spring.
Days to maturity: 90 to more than 200
Light requirement: Complete sun, though needs some shade in very hot summers
Water necessity: Regular watering
Favorites: Bandit, Blue Solaise, Giant Musselburgh, King Richard, Varna
Planting and care: Transplant seedlings into routine, rich ground about 5 inches deep and at least two feet apart (4 feet apart is likely better). Keep the soil consistently moist and fertilize it every couple weeks. Pests are rather infrequent, though you may have difficulties with thrips.
As the plants grow, mound soil around the bottoms to blanch the stalks. Keep the soil just under the leaf joints therefore it will not find its way into the shanks.
Harvest: If the stalks reach 1/2 inch two inches thick, then gently work them from the ground. You’ll probably need a spading fork, as they run deep. In mild-winter climates, you may set out successive plantings to continue harvesting through winter. In cold-winter climates, you’ll want to finish harvesting until the ground freezes.
More: How to Grow Taller in Spring and Fall