Connecticut Garden Journal: Leeks | Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Garden Journal: Leeks

Nov 24, 2016

One of my favorite vegetables for Thanksgiving is the leek. Called the poor man's asparagus by the French, leeks originated around the Mediterranean, and have been eaten for more than 3,000 years. 

They're mentioned in the Bible, and King Nero of Rome ate leeks because he thought they improved his singing voice.

Leeks spread throughout Europe and Britain. They're also the national symbol of Wales. King Cadwallader had his men wear leeks in their hats as they marched into war, a symbol of the Welsh army.

What I love about leeks is their toughness.

We harvest leeks well into winter. They can withstand a frost and even snow. I've harvested leeks frozen solid, cooked them up, and they still tasted delicious.

Leeks grow well spaced close together. So you only need a small patch to have more leeks than you can eat.

Plant leeks in spring from seedlings, and keep them watered and weeded. Don't pay any more attention to them until fall, when they're in their glory, and sweetening up with the cool weather.

The flavor is milder than onions, and they taste great chopped in salads, sauteed, roasted, or to made into my favorite dish, potato leek soup.

When selecting varieties for next year's garden, try early maturing ones, such as King Richard, or hardy types that can withstand the cold.

Tadorna is a hardy variety that's beautiful, too, with its blue-green foliage. It's a great edible landscape plant.

Plant seedlings in furrows on top of raised beds. Fill in the furrows as they grow, and hill them to get more of the mild-flavored, white shaft to develop.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about Christmas cactus. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.