Wednesday, 20 July 2011
We're rather behind schedule, as with so many things this year, but last week we transplanted our leeks. This was a technique Mr. Ferdzy was shown a few years back for growing very long, BIG, straight, white leeks, and I thought I would pass it on.
We grow our leeks from seed, starting them in flats indoors in mid-February to early March. Once the weather warms up we plant them out, around early May. They go into rows about 4 inches apart, spaced only 2 or 3 inches apart in the rows. This is very tight, but around the beginning of July (*ahem*) when they are about 12 to 16 inches tall (*ahem*) they get transplanted again.
We planned to transplant them to the new wet beds that we started this spring. However, they were so new that by the beginning of July when we should have transplanted the leeks, that last bed was not actually dug yet. However, Mr. Ferdzy set to, and by the middle of the month he had it ready.
Next step was to dig up all those tightly-spaced leeks, trying to keep as much of the roots in good condition as possible.
Down at the new bed, Mr. Ferdzy poked holes in the soil with the end of a broom handle, about 10 inches deep and 8 or nine inches apart in any direction. He did mark the broom handle with a pen, but shortly the only way to tell the line was by the mud.
Once the holes were made, it was my job to follow along behind and put a leek into each one. Somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of each leek should drop down the hole, leaving the tips of the leaves poking out. Sometimes the holes had to be enlarged. I had a spade handle I used for that.
The holes don`t get filled in with dirt once the leeks are in place. We watered the leeks in well, and don`t worry about any dirt that falls into the holes, but the idea is that over the rest of the summer those holes will fill in by themselves - with LEEK. Yep, the biggest, fattest, best leeks ever hopefully.
Last year we transplanted them too early, and a few did not make it as we buried them too deep, but most did okay and we got some great leeks. This year they have been transplanted late, and they are maybe a bit big for easy moving and resettling. I think they will mostly do okay though, especially if we make sure to keep them well watered. We are having some brutally hot and dry weather now! Good thing we decided to start these wet beds.
And there they are; what took up 2 feet of space in the spring planting has now expanded to about 10 feet of maturing leeks. It`s a bit of extra work, but a good leek is a work of art, and if we store them carefully we will be eating leeks for most of the winter.