It is that time of year when last year’s leeks are going to seed in southwest Idaho. One of the advantages of always being behind in garden clean-up, is that I accidentally discover how to make the most of unexpected re-seeding. Unlike flowering lettuce, leek flower pods look like exotic birds. The stalks shoot up with swaying curves that imply a ritual dance. (click on any picture to enlarge.)
All but a couple of seed heads should be cut back, or the garden might be over run with volunteers. But why not have less work in the spring greenhouse or less trouble getting the seeds planted next spring at just the right time? Just remember that the new plants poking up in the garden bed can look like grass coming up.
When the young leek plants are around 3 to 6 inches tall, they have enough of a root to be transplanted with a small trowel. Mid June was when I did it. Just like with all transplanting, try to choose a day with cooler and/or overcast weather. I suggest pre-digging the holes in the location you want them. Then, simply insert the trowel a couple of inches from the little leek to lift the plant out while supporting it with your other hand. Carry it right over to the new row and pat it in, spacing about 4 inches apart. It can be planted a bit deeper than it was, for extra reinforcement. Make sure they get water soon. Simple.
Another reason for cutting the seed heads off is to keep the bulb more edible. I have had leeks live (and multiply bulbs like tulips) through two Idaho winters and still be good for cooking. Maybe this fall I will get to slicing and freezing or drying more leeks for winter soups, since they are nearly impossible to dig out mid winter, but until then I will have an abundance of fresh leeks in the garden.
How does your garden grow this fine July day?