Author Topic: Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring  (Read 382 times)

Ferdzy

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Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring
« on: 2019-06-25, 02:16:36 PM »
Two summers ago I was very excited to find that some leek seeds that had dropped from seed heads had overwintered. This is the first time I have seen that happen. We grew them out, and they seemed particularly good the spring after that, which is to say last spring. They went to seed last fall and I saved the seed with the idea that we would be continuing to select these for early spring eating. Then I thought I had lost the seed and was heartbroken, but I have just figured out where it went: half our Rose de Roscoff seedlings are turning out to be leeks.  :-[

Has anyone else had leek seed overwinter in the garden, and if so, what kind of winter? The winter these seeds/seedlings survived was not particularly cold, but still, it was winter in Canada. I would say it got down to near or just below -20C only a few times. Spring had quite a bit of freezing and thawing. As far as I can tell, the mother of these seeds was Verdonnet, allowed to cross with Bandit (Green Winter), Giant Musselburgh, and Inegol which is a Turkish landrace (?) as well as itself, of course. Seedlings were only found within range of the Verdonnet section but I can see signs of the other varieties in them, even the Inegol which is the least apparently winter hardy.

Our goal with these is to be able to dig them as soon as the ground thaws in the spring, and for them to actually look nice - marketable, even - when that happens. When we grow them out again we will be looking for late bolters, again so they can be usable in the spring for as long as possible.

Richard Watson

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Re: Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring
« Reply #1 on: 2019-06-28, 11:23:52 PM »
That is something Ive never had happen in my garden and that is leek seed volunteer
Changeable year round climate with warming winters - just under 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial out wash from the Southern
alps.

Diane Whitehead

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Re: Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring
« Reply #2 on: 2019-06-29, 07:38:04 PM »
Some of my leeks have triangular bulbils that come off if I pull the leek, and then I have a perennial clump.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters,  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

Ferdzy

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Re: Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring
« Reply #3 on: 2019-06-29, 07:51:22 PM »
Some of my leeks have triangular bulbils that come off if I pull the leek, and then I have a perennial clump.

You mean at the base, Diane? I had that happen with some of this group too. But how about actually growing from overwintered seeds?

Diane Whitehead

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Re: Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring
« Reply #4 on: 2019-06-29, 07:58:34 PM »
Hmm.  I have had some grow that I didn't sow.  I'll pay better attention this year.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters,  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

Richard Watson

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Re: Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring
« Reply #5 on: 2019-06-29, 11:45:58 PM »
Some of my leeks have triangular bulbils that come off if I pull the leek, and then I have a perennial clump.
And that is something I dont get from my plants either, perennial leeks yes.
 
Changeable year round climate with warming winters - just under 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial out wash from the Southern
alps.

Ferdzy

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Re: Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring
« Reply #6 on: 2019-07-28, 08:06:06 AM »
We just gave the leeks their second transplant, and they are looking nice!

I guess I should say we start them in flats, transplant them to shallow trenches when about 4" tall, then at the end of June - hem, hem - we use a dibble to form 8" deep holes and drop 1 good leek into each hole, then water them in. There are always a lot of smaller leeks that get discarded (to the kitchen). This is the second transplant to which I refer. A month late, mostly due to weather related problems. However, I also get the impression that these are going to be fairly slow-growing in the first half of their lives. They seem to get as big as most leeks by the time I want to pick them though, so that's good.

In spite of their hardiness, these are not the "blue-est" leeks we've ever grown, but they have an odd stiff, almost prickly, quality to them. That's to the touch - they were lovely and tender to eat in the spring.

In short, getting kind of excited about these again.

Richard Watson

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Re: Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring
« Reply #7 on: 2019-07-28, 01:22:08 PM »
Our Canadian/New Zealand cross grex that we are growing has shown quite a range of leaf colour this winter, from a blue/green to a light green, ive got about 60 plants that I can use for flowering so these green ones will be pulled out soon 
Changeable year round climate with warming winters - just under 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial out wash from the Southern
alps.

Steph S

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Re: Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring
« Reply #8 on: 2019-11-15, 05:15:11 PM »
American Flag leeks overwinter in my garden.   I can't say the same for seed, unfortunately they flower so late it is a challenge to get any seed from them.   I brought some into the greenhouse one year to overwinter and I did get seed from them that year after transplanting outdoors.   One thing I noticed is that they will form 'pearls' or little bulbs around the base of the stem after you remove the seed stalk.  Those are winter hardy, but they won't form unless the flower stalk is removed early enough for them to grow before the season is over.
I've really neglected these poor things and didn't quite get them transplanted to a better place this season.   They seem willing to persist in spite of me, but it would be good to give them some space so they can get full sized.  ::)
I grew Mammoth leeks last year, which had all the space and grew as big as leeks should be, but too bad they didn't survive winter.  They were kind of odd with a mix of blue vs green leaved  and short vs tall stemmed among them, so may have been crossed seed.  I had hopes of selecting a nice one but if they're not hardy there wouldn't be any point.   
I'm getting too old for vegetables that don't fend for themselves.   ;)

Ferdzy

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Re: Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring
« Reply #9 on: 2019-11-23, 11:55:20 AM »
Unfamiliar with Mammoth leeks but as far as I know American Flag is just another name for Giant Musselburgh, which has long been a staple for me. It is not the hardiest in my experience but pretty good, up there, etc.

Elephant garlic is actually a leek and when you get those little "pearls" or bulbs at the base, your leeks are heading in that direction. For what that's worth.

Steph S

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Re: Overwintering leeks for immediate use in the spring
« Reply #10 on: 2019-11-23, 02:04:28 PM »
Yeah I think American Flag has a bunch of common names. Broad London is another one.  :D
The Mammoth leeks are British originally - came to me from a seed swap.  Big fat seedlings and fast growing.  We got Mammoth Onion in the swap one year too, and that was awesome.  Large and very sweet onions.
So far the Elephant Garlic hasn't crossed my path.