Tuesday, 17 January 2012

HOW TO GROW LEEKS FROM SEED


You can start sowing leeks from the end of January to the end of February. Fill a seed tray with John Innes Seed and Cutting compost, tapping the tray to settle the compost. Level gently with a flat piece of wood but avoid compacting the soil. 

Broadcast the leek seeds individually within the tray, approximately 50 seeds in total. Lightly cover with compost using a sieve. Place the tray in a larger tray holding 2 cm of water until the soil is moist and the surface of the compost turns from light to dark brown.

Remove from the water tray and place in a well lit area such as a windowsill or bench in a heated greenhouse. Either cover with glass or place in a propagator until the first seedlings emerge or leave uncovered and water frequently by spraying daily. Do not allow the compost to dry out (or become waterlogged).


The seeds will germinate after two weeks and will be ready to be transplanted into individual pots when they each the crook stage. Fill 9cm pots with John Innnes No.1 compost and carefully lift the seedlings with a pencil or similar to avoid damage.

Leeks are ready to be planted out in May, but will need to be hardened off for two weeks prior to being planted in their bed. Place the seedlings into a hole 20 cm deep made with a dibber. Fill the hole with water and allow it to drain away, which will draw soil over the roots and support the seedling.

You may wish to continue to protect them with a cloche or poly tunnel for a further month to give them a good start.

Sowing seeds directly into beds

When selecting an area for your leek bed ensure that the position is well drained, adding organic matter if necessary. You may wish to ensure this by planting in mounded or raised beds.

The best time to sow leek seeds directly into the soil is between March and April. Sow the seeds in rows 1 cm deep, allowing 30 cm between rows. Cover with soil and water gently. The leeks will germinate in approximately two weeks. When the leeks have produced their third leaf thin the seedlings so that they are spaced at 15 cm intervals.

Maintenance

Remove any weeds in the bed as these will compete with your leeks for nutrients, space, moisture and light. Ensure you water the leeks during the growing season to prevent the stalks becoming woody. You can top dress the soil periodically with seaweed, compost and weed free green material as this will help to mulch the soil and keep the soil friable as well as conserving moisture.

The leeks will be ready to harvest from mid to late summer onwards.

Photos care of http://www.thompson-morgan.com/,  http://www.hgtv.com/, http://www.city-smallholder.co.uk/ and http://topveg.com/

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