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The lost plot: How to grow leeks

A vegetable that used to be served cooked to a mush and covered with white sauce, the leek is not only nutritious, but gives any dish a silky smooth texture – try it in a chickpea and leek soup or iced Vichysoisse.

Leeks thrive during the colder months of the year. There are two main planting times – August to November and then February to May. Although leeks take about six months to mature, they are worth trying as they are often expensive to buy.

To start your own seedlings, scatter leek seeds into seed compost in a shallow tray. Apply a thin covering layer of seed compost and water with a rose fitting on your watering can. Wait till your seedlings are at least a good finger length in height and then plant into your garden. Or buy seedlings from a garden centre.

Leeks like well-manured soil. To plant out, make holes about 15cm deep with a dibber (a pointed stick the thickness of a broom handle) and pop a seedling into each one.

All of the white part of the seedling should be below ground level. Water in so the roots make good contact with the soil but don’t bother trying to backfill your holes with soil. This step is crucial to blanch the leek or it will be green and inedible.

First published: Apr 2019