Allotment Leeks – to earth up or not to earth up?

Leeks – you can’t have too many of them! This is our raised bed of leeks, then we have two rows of leeks in with the peas and we even have a line of leeks in the raspberries because we had so many left over.

But I don’t know whether to blanch them, and if so, how and when? I do know why – it’s to increase the length of white stem and make it more tender by reducing sunlight. All the information I’ve been able to gather is that you draw dry soil around the stems when the plants are well developed, in stages, like earthing up potatoes, but not allowing any earth to fall between the leaves of the leeks or the plants will be full of grit. I also know you should finish earthing-up in late October.

So – some questions to the allotment universe:

1. is it a good idea to put something around the plants to avoid that grittiness like, say toilet roll inners sliced laterally and then held round the leek with elastic bands (hope the reader can imagine what I mean, the slicing to get the cardboard over the leaves, the band to hold the roll in place snugly) or does that give chickie-pigs and other beasties a perfect new home?

2. have I got the wrong kind of leeks, as mine seem to be growing leaves from the ground out, so it’s hard to imagine how they might ever develop a long stem – I’m sure they should have done it by now – or do I cut the bottom leaves off to make a long stem?

Gosh I’m confused. We grew self-blanching leeks last year, which was easier although the germination was nowhere near as good as with ‘classic’ leeks. Perhaps I should have stuck with what I know. I suddenly feel like a massive leek ignoramus, which is a sad thing to be, when you love leeks as much as I do.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, July 14, 2009


OpenID said...

Don't feel an ignaramous..after all you have already found out something you didn't know...and have taught me about blanching leeks..(which just for the record I have never hear or done) I didn't even know self blanching leeks existed...maybe I am growing these but I really wouldn't have a least you know what you're growing so you are already one up on me!!

July 16, 2009 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

I haven't heard from anybody who blanches, except one allotment neighbour who used to win prizes with his leeks, so I'm going to forget the whole idea.

As for self blanching, they grow somewhat less tough outer leaves, more like supermarket leeks, but that could also be because they get planted closer together.

July 20, 2009 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Z said...

I suppose you made a good deep hole to drop the young leek plants in to? - in that case, there's already a lovely long leek plant under the ground, ready blanched. Since you've got plenty of leeks, you've got enough to do a bit of experimentation if you want to.

July 21, 2009 at 12:41 AM  

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