Leeks are one of those crops that take me a bit of extra effort to grow. They are the longest season crop we grow-the first to start in the greenhouse in late February, the first to transplant outdoors with our onions, and the last thing we harvest in November.
I’ve never been satisfied with the leeks I’ve grown. Supermarket leeks are generally really long, and fat and that has never really been what my leek crop look like.
This year I decided to spend the extra time getting to know leeks a little better, learning what they need, and hoping for a good outcome. In addition to regular waterings and plenty of compost, I gave them extra nitrogen in the form of alfalfa meal, plus regular applications of seaweed. I also hilled them, mounding the surrounding soil against the shafts to encourage more vertical growth and blanched stalks, and then mulched them with straw as they grew. Here’s how I feel about this year’s crop:
In season: Fall and winter. Leeks are harvested from the field in October and November. Like many of the crops we grow, we store most of the harvest in cold storage for a few months.
Shelf life: The leafy green part of the leek last only a few weeks. The long stems can last a month or so in your refrigerator.
How to prep: Trim the roots, and any blemished green leaves. First a grit get caught up in the layers of the leek. Rinse the leeks after they have been chopped to deal with the dirt.
Cook: Generally speaking, you can use leeks like onions but their flavorful is deeper and more subtle. I like to use them where I can taste them: Use in soups, they pair great with lentils of all kinds; Slice lengthwise, then in sections, and roast with oil; Use instead of green onions in stir fry; Add to roasted root vegetable medleys