Sustainable leeks update


Sustainable leeks update

Poireau Perpetuel (perennial leeks not your normal allotment leeks)After hibernating during the height of summer, my perennial sweet leeks (poireau perpetual) have reawakened and have set new roots and new greens. This is a relief for me because I spent a ruinous amount (I say ruinous but it was about £35) getting nine (yes, nine) of these perennial vegetables from France. They grew on over this years season then died back late July. I then dug up the bulbs, divided off the bulblets – which are smaller bulbs clinging to the mother, and potted them all up in compost so everything would be ready for when they regrew.

Leek bubletsmy backyardIt has worked. I now have about 45 perennial leeks from my original nine. At this rate, next autumn I will have 225 and then 1125 the year after that, if I don’t eat any.

I can see why the rest of the world has moved on to biennial leeks, the yield is much larger with the biennials. But those of us who are interested in sustainability really need to get hold of these old perennial vegetables and improve them without losing their perennial features. Anyway, they are a fascinating plant and I’m looking forward to seeing all 45 growing away through autumn and not bolting (much) in the spring. I did get a couple of bolters this season, so that’s a black mark in itself.

I am also continuing my experiments with non seed based propagation of the biennial common or garden leek. I have a dozen or so from last year which are no more than flower stalks with lots and lots of immature seeds. As I reported before I obtained zero (nilch nada) pips, which has thoroughly confused me, but I have never collected seed from leeks before so I have stuck patiently with the silly things clogging up my allotment. And I have been patient. But not always, my curiosity to see how many large bulblets I might get around the base (another way the leek reproduces) has led me to knock down the odd flower stalk and dig the things up. I have had a few and planted them in pots and the results are in the pic to the left, the bulblets in the square green pot.

I’m having trouble getting broadcast green manures to germinate, I expect it is because I live too far from the allotment to water it as much as it needs. The green manure is a core facet of my sustainability plans so this better work and I’m running out of time. Wish me luck.

Oh and I’m drawing up plans for a home made poly-green-house, so definitely wish me luck on that, I’m going to need it.


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2 Comments so far

Anni KelseyPosted on3:48 pm - Feb 14, 2014

I too love the perennial leek (poireau perpetuel). I think I bought just three some years ago, but I may have had a further three as well. Anyway like yours they are multiplying really well and some are fattening up enough to resemble a “real” leek, albeit a small one. Am grateful for your figures that nine became forty five. Mine have been coming up since the start of January.

    adminPosted on6:14 pm - Feb 14, 2014

    Thanks Anni. I wanted “big” perennial leeks as quickly as possible so I dug them up when they were dormant and divided them, planting 4 inches apart. This was a mistake because two that I missed when digging reappeared in their original bed and are both larger than all the others even though they have babies clustering around them. So now I am just going to let them clump up and maybe divide every few years or so.

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