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Growing Leeks

How to grow leeks in garden beds, deep containers  and allotments



Family/Latin Name

Allium  - ampeloprasum var. porrum

Type of Plant

Bulb - Crop Rotation Group = Others

Suitable for

Garden Beds, Allotments

Pests & Diseases    Companion Plants    In the Kitchen

See also:-  Vegetable Growing Glossary  |    Container Growing  | Buying Seeds & Plants


Plant Dimensions

Height Up to 60cm/2ft - Spread  up to 30cm/12"

Yield per plant
Yield per 1.5cm/5ft row
1 Leek

Time between sowing and harvesting

30-45 weeks depending on variety

Where to Sow

Outdoors in open ground in a prepared seedbed or 15cm/6" deep pots

Sowing time

March to April  - temperature   +10C/50F

How to Sow

12mm/½" deep - very thinly -  in rows 15cm/6" apart or in groups/blocks.

After Germination

Thin seedlings to 5cm/2" apart  Keep the soil moist but not very wet and weed free.

Growing on - in open ground

Once the plants reach 20cm/8" high and the width of a pencil they should be transplanted to their permanent positions. This will be around Water the seed bed if dry well before attempting to transplant.


Dig up the plants with the roots in tact, the leaves can be trimmed enough to prevent them flopping  into the soil. Make a hole with a dibber or stick about 15cm/6" deep and wide enough to drop a leek plant in without touching the sides. Fill the hole with water but do not fill with soil. repeat with all the leek plants spacing a good 15cm/6" apart either in rows or in blocks.

Growing on - in pots

As above. Choose containers at least 30cm/12" deep but only fill to within 10cm/4" of the top. This will enable you to blanch the stems by just adding layers of compost or soil as described below.


Water  in dry weather and keep weed free.


Once the leeks have grown thicker and have completely filled the holes, start earthing up to blanch the stems. This is done by gradually pulling the surrounding soil up against the plants and is best done in stages over a number of weeks, earthing up a maximum of   5cm/2" at a time. This is done to produce more white stem.


Harvest as and when needed by gently lifting with a fork. Harvesting can start once the stems 12mm/½" in thickness for very tender baby specimens although the optimum size would be between 2.5-5cm/1-2" thick. Harvesting can continue through the winter to early spring.


Pests and Diseases

Companion Plants

Not often severely attacked due to the short growing period.
Onion Fly
Indications Yellow drooping leaves and maggots in the base of the bulbs
Treatment None. Lift and burn infected plants
Prevention Organic
1. Practise crop rotation.
2. Destroy any thinnings or broken leaves
3. Firm the soil around young plants very firmly
Spray young plants with an insecticide containing chlorpyrifos
Stem and Bulb Eelworm
Indications Young plants leaves become swollen and twisted. Bulbs have a soft feel to them and often split at the base. The worms are not visible to the naked eye.
Treatment None - lift and burn infected plants
Prevention Practice crop rotation
White Tip
Indications Tips of leaves turn white and papery, spreading downwards
Treatment Organic
Lift and destroy badly infected plants
Spray with an insecticide containing Dithane as soon as you see the first signs of disease
Prevention Practice crop rotation
Downy Mildew
Indications Yellow patches on leaves with a greyish mould underneath
Treatment Organic
Remove the infected leaves and apply an organic copper spray/dust to diseased and surrounding plants every 7-10 day
 Remove the infected leaves and spray with Dithane at first sign of attack
Prevention Avoid damp or humid sites and overcrowding.
Practice crop rotation.


Companion Flower Graphic

Grow Beetroot, Carrot, Lettuce, Cabbage Family
 close by.



Create a bio-diverse environment by planting flowers nearby to attract bees, ladybirds and other "friendlies". 


To learn more about companion planting click here.

In the Kitchen

Storage:  Unwashed, up to 10 days in the refrigerator.

Preparing:  Remove any damaged outer leaves. Trim the root base and cut off up to two thirds of the dark green tops. Leeks often contain dirt inside the layers. One way to ensure it is all removed is to cut them in half lengthways and hold them under cold running water whilst fanning open the layers



Whole, halves, thick slices  =  30 minutes


Thick Slices  =   10 - 15 minutes


Thin  Slices   =  5 - 10 minutes


Chopped  -  5 - 8 minutes


Thin  Slices   =  8 - 12 minutes


For more preparation and cooking information about leeks plus lots of  recipes visit our sister site www.recipes4us.co.uk.

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