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Leeks are important


Tuesday 12th May

Despite the fact that countryfile has said it’s going to be wet and windy this week we’ve had another lovely day here in North Yorkshire, so making the most of the moment I’ve decided to concentrate on my leeks.

Leeks are important.

For some reason that I have never understood leeks are very popular up here in the North East. They used to have all number of leek shows around the area (usually up around Newcastle and Northumberland), but leeks are a definite obsession around these parts. There was an article on Look North the other year about a man that just grows monster leeks and the extent to which it had taken over his life. I am not that man.

Also there is a song that my wife will occasionally sing to me. It’s taken from ‘Roland Rat – the album’ and is sung by Errol the hamster called ‘Leeks are lovely’. Yes we do have a copy of that album (it does belong to my wife I will hasten to add). It seems to sum up that leeks hold a special place in her heart. When she was growing up in rural Lincolnshire she used to help her dad planting leeks out, he’d make the hole and she would drop in the leek seedling and then water it. Last year I planted 300 leeks and will admit we probably used all but a dozen or two that had seeded. That shows you how much we like leeks.

My leeks are usually okay, they are usually a good inch across with a decent amount of white body. I do tend to have a number that are thinner though, and I am curious if I can improve them. I know that it has long been mentioned that people grow leeks in drainpipes to get the maximum size, but I do not want to go out and buy the length of drainpipe I would need. The normal procedure for me is dibber a hole, put the leek in and water hole (repeat till all leeks seedlings used up) and normally it’s a dry day when I plant them, the soil is loose or crumbly and fills the hole in fairly quickly. So this year I have a cunning plan ! I plan on putting a rolled up tube of paper in the hole after I have dibbered the hole to keep the hole sides back. The paper will hopefully disintegrate eventually but should give me enough time to let the leeks grow a bit before it goes. We’ll see what happens, I’ve not got anything to lose and can’t see that it will hurt any.

All the articles I have read say plant the leek seedlings when they are ‘as thick as a pencil’ and 20cm (8” in old money) tall. Well mine are as thick as drinking straw and about the right height, so they can go in. The reason I’m not worried is that I know leeks are very hardy plants and can survive the odd frost (I saw them well and truly frozen solid in the snow this year), so if they’d been growing in their position then they’d be out at the moment anyway, so why not plant them out now.

So I spent a lot of time on Monday evening trimming old copies of the free newspaper Metro to a nice size for the hole.

In the spirit of true experiment I have a control group of ones that don’t have the paper tube in, so we’ll see what happens. To show my dedication to the cause I have to say that planting leeks is my least favourite job on the allotment. It plays havoc with my hands, and the eczema that I get on them, it’s the making of the hole that causes the problem. Anyway tonight I have planted 150 leeks and have another 70 or so to plant at a later date.

This afternoon I also thinned out my Swedes (‘Best of Both Worlds’) and covered them with chicken wire cloches to keep the nasty pigeons off. I also had a tray of Red Cabbage (‘Red Flare’) and Cauliflower (‘All The Year Round’) that I sowed because it didn’t look like the initial sowing of those 2 varieties had worked. They did though, so I have extras! They went in as well, simply because I had them spare and didn’t like to waste them.

The spare marigold seedlings that I had left over have also gone in to the allotment, not really to fill a gap, just because I don’t want to see them go to waste.

Now that the late plants have gone in the plot looks a lot better. It’s no longer just a mass of brown, there are other things to see now that are lovely and green. Apart from a few things (runner beans, lettuce and beetroot) everything seems to be in now and merrily growing away. I hope now that with the weather on my side, with a little bit of care and love and attention they will all crop and we’ll all be happy.

I also did some more weeding and have discovered a potato growing in my garlic. I love spuds but you always miss one or two when you dig them up, and bear in mind that this plot has been dug over twice!

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A great blog and very witty. I chuckled all the way through reading it. Being a North East girl myself, I think leeks are extremely important. thank you for an excellent blog.

14 May, 2009


A very nice blog enjoyed reading it, I have now gone over to raised beds because of snail slug and keel slug problems, as I always found that when I had planted my leeks and watered them in the slugs used to go into the the hole and eat the leek, very annoying.

17 May, 2009


Ooooh, I want to plant some leeks now! They'd have to be grown in a bag tho'. What variety of leeks do you grow? And how did you make the rolled up tubes?

1 Jun, 2009


Thanks for your advice, I'm going to have to try and find some baby leeks now, as I think it's too late to try from seed? If not, I'll have to wait til next year.

Btw, I've never heard of the Leek song, sorry!! Lol!! I've heard of Roland Rat tho', but I think it was a rap song, senior moment, hehe!!!

3 Jun, 2009

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