Thursday, April 21, 2016

Farm Favourites - Perennial Leek

I LOVE leeks. Being from a European background, we ate them as a vegetable, cooked down to a soft mush in butter, salt and pepper - but who can afford to do that these days when a single leek is $3?!
And who can bear to wait the 10 months it takes to grow a few beauties in the garden? Not me.

So here's the solution, perennial leeks.

They grow easily, will stay around all year if kept watered in summer and those that don't, come up again in autumn once the weather gets cooler and there have been a few rains. The ones in the picture to the left have just sprouted a couple of weeks ago so are only small. They will get to full leek size if left to grow. They prefer a well-drained, rich soil, but will tolerate poor soils just as easily. You can harvest them early to add flavour to a dish or wait until they're thicker. If you want a longer white stem (favoured by the French and Belgians), bury them very deep to blanch the stalk as it grows and continue to mound it up. 

These spread from a central leek. You cut the fattest and leave the others to grow. Personally, I want thousands in my garden,a never ending supply of glorious leek, so for the past 3 years I've been separating them to make new plants. Here's how...

First, carefully lift the clump with a small trowel. You must lift them, as pulling individuals will result in them breaking - they are fragile when young.

Shake the dirt off gently and you'll see that the base is where all the smaller bulbs are formed. Carefully separate the smaller leeks. 
And voila! A new leek plant to put into the bed. This baby will grow, thicken and divide again within a year. So easy! So delicious!

Happy gardening! :)


Helen said...

We live near Toowoomba in QLD and I was wondering where to obtain the perennial leeks?

Cwm Goch Chronicles said...

Hi Helen
That's a good question. I haven't seen them in nurseries here in WA either. I got mine from my cousin year ago. Many people have them, so I'd suggest putting a call out on Facebook via a gardening group and ask if anyone might pass some onto you.
I've given heaps away here, but I don't think they'd post well.