We have tried onions, and for our sins we're trying again (more on that later in the month) but to cover ourselves and because we like potato and leek soup we're growing rhubarb! Just kidding, we're trying our hands at leeks and it has been a few years since we grew them. So, to play fair and to see what is out there we selected three types of leek: de Carentan 2 (from Lidl), Blue Solaise (from Kings) and Northern Lights F1 (from Thompson & Morgan). We want to see the differences between supermarket seeds, catalogue seeds and F1 seeds. F1 breed uniformity but it is safe to say, as with many F1 seed packets, you don't get much for your money to sow in eight inch pot. The other two packets had at least another year's sowing left in their packets but how do you sow leeks? Well, *drum-roll*, we'll take you step by step through sowing leeks.
We use six or eight inch pots with a multipurpose compost in it. You don't need a massive amount of pots for leeks, we tend to sow one eight inch pot and that can give us up to forty leeks a pot, as they grow and develop roots you split the pot up into individual plants but we'll come to that later in the year. First, the sowing of seed.
Open the packet, don't tear it, there's a reason why you don't open seed packets like your Christmas presents, seeds tend to fly everywhere so we have a small sharp knife or a pair of scissors on hand to cut open the packets. Inside the seed packet you should find a smaller foil covered packet, seeds are stored in foil to keep them fresh. This means that most seed is good for two seasons, and some even longer if stored in a cool place, but we tend to get new seed/collect seed every two years.
You can see in the packet in the above photo the amount of F1 seed we're dealing with - told you there weren't many - you can sow in two ways. (1) Pour the seed out into your hand and lightly scatter across the pot, or (2) Simply tap the side of the seed packet gently and move over the pot sowing thinly as you go. Remember, sow thinly, if you sow thick your plants will become congested and will inevitably run out of nutrients and could succumb to other diseases as you will create a humid micro climate at soil level. Basically, think of you in rush hour on public transport, how do you like it? Elbow room or nose deep in someone else's armpit?
You can see below that the leeks are sowed thinly with space between each possible germinating seed.
You can use a soil sieve to cover the seed now or take a small plant pot with drainage holes and use this as a makeshift sieve.
Simply shake gently across the pot with the leek seed in until all the seeds are covered.
Then label and always, always date. Why? Because you are only human and you will forget when you sowed them and five weeks later you will um and ahh whether to chuck them out because you're not quite sure when you sowed them.
Then water them in with a watering can with seed rose attached to it. This is a fine rose and unlike most watering cans finely waters pots and doesn't drown them and wash away the seed. There's no need to put these in a propagator but on cold nights, even under glass, cover with fleece.
For the eagle eyed readers you can see our onions in modules behind. We'll take you through the way we plant them soon, we'll also show you how to plant them in open ground and watch them die because that's how onions treat us on our hillside, they tease us, and then drop dead. Bloody onions. Up with the leeks!