How to Grow Leeks {Start to Finish}

American Flag Leek botanical interests seed packet

This morning I planted a packet of American Flag Leek seeds and placed them under grow lights in the office {I’ll show you my set up tomorrow}. I tried to grow some leeks last year, but the chickens gobbled them all up shortly after I transplanted them outside. Booo! So I’m back at it again. Since I already know I can grow onions, I’m thinking growing leeks are going to be really easy as well. That is, if I can keep the chickens away.

Brief description: Leeks are in the onion family.  They have a thick stem, but do not form bulbs like traditional onions.

Where to Plant Leeks:  Plant in a sunny spot, with fertile, well-drained soil.  {If drainage is an issue in your garden, mix pearlite in with the soil when you plant}  They thrive in garden beds, raised beds, or even tall containers.

leek seeds

Planting Seeds:  Plant in a group of 4 seeds 1/2″ deep, every 4″.  Row spacing should be about 12″.  Thin to one plant every 4″ when plants are about 1″ tall.

Growing Tip:  Start indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost.  Plants are very hardy and low maintenance.

Leeks{photo credit}

How to Harvest:  Harvest when stems are about 1″ in diameter.  Dig around the base of the plant to loosen the soil and then pluck them right out of the ground.

White Bean Chili with winter vegetablesWhite Bean Chili With Winter Vegetables – Bon Appetit 

LKFLKU (Little known fact, little known use):  The Roman emperor, Nero, drank Leek soup everyday, because he believed it would enhance his singing voice.  Hmm, maybe a singing career is in my future?!

Will YOU be growing leeks in your garden this year?


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  1. Cristie says

    Given your wonderful instructions, i am going to consider growing leeks. I’ve never kept/cooked with them though so i have a few questions. Do they have a narrow window of harvest (like tomatoes) or can they be left for a reasonable amount of time in the ground (like potatoes)? Also, do they keep like onions? it’s just my DH and I so I need to gauge the amount of space I give stuff based on how long things store for.

  2. Mari says

    Hi Mavis

    I love your blog and see major differences between how we do things here in New Zealand and how you do it – eg your method of canning everything in a water bath, (including jams) where we really only ‘can’ or bottle as we call it – fruits.

    Am interested to see you planting leeks now, mid winter for you.We grow them over winter here. Its mid summer here and two days ago, I planted out my leek seedlings for winter harvest. I plant the seedlings about 3″ apart in rows 3″ apart. We just leave them in the ground and dig as we need them. No they don’t keep like onions do, but if harvested and cut leaving about 4-6″ green on each and some of the roots and wrapped individually in cling film then stored in chiller they will keep a few weeks.

    I also planted my winter harvest potatoes, more beans, beetroot, lettuce, cabbage and carrots in new raised vege boxes. Much easier on aging bones and joints. Next step for me is to harvest beans, beetroot and sweetcorn in a month or so and blanch, then freeze them. Apricots, nectarines and peaches are just coming on to the market so I will make jam, dehydrate and bottle the halved fruit. I have just ordered my winter vege seeds so will start planting them next week and every 3 weeks after that. I aim to plant 6 of each cabbage, cauli, broccoli and chard every 3 -4 weeks.

    I envy your energy, I used to be like that 20 yrs ago too. Good luck with your 4000lb of vege. what are you going to do with it all??

  3. queen of string says

    We had home grown leeks in our chicken pot pie for dinner. They’re really easy to grow in the Pacific Northwest. I like to use my garden knife to remove most of the roots before pulling them up ( plunge it into the ground, vertically, near to the stem) this helps minimise ground disruption and I figure the left over roots add to the soil :-)

  4. anne says

    I’ve grown leeks before but never started them inside before. Do you plant one per pot or can put in several seeds like onions?

  5. says

    Have never tried leeks in my small plot – as you say – keeping the chickens away could be an issue! (I only have two but they are feisty gals!)

    As for the singing voice? Well the Leek is the national emblem of Wales and Welshmen are known for their singing voices and Male Voice Choirs!

  6. Susan Reid says

    Yes, my leek seedlings are in. But what I need advice or tips on is my arch nemisis the White Cabbage Moth as i am about to plant my brassicas. I dispise these little bliters, and i have lost too many plants to them. This year I am planning my attack well in advance. So any tips from readers would be greatly appreciated!

    • carrie says

      Cover the seedlings as soon as you plant them with reemay cloth in a little hoop. They sell it at garden supply stores or amazon. Make sure the edges are sealed to the ground.

      • Susan Reid says

        Thanks Carrie, i’m not sure what reemay cloth is, but guess it must be a fine mesh? I’ m in australia. What do u make the hoop from?

  7. says

    I’ve started them on 1/4 and so far they look like chives. From reading you should start them indoors but I want to do secession planting. I’m in 9B zone and have a butt ton more leek seeds (only planted 10) I’m hoping to sow them from seed outdoors.

    what do ya think? Think I might have success?

  8. says

    I LOVE leeks, and I was eyeing them in the seed catalog… I think I might take the plunge and see how I manage here in the Midwest.

    Looking forward to seeing your office grow-light setup. I’m working on convincing my husband that our guest room needs to be full of seedlings for a couple of months…

  9. Regan C. says

    Hi Mavis,
    I was having trouble last year with my neighbor’s chicken who liked to get out and come scratch in my yard (which was fine if she just ate the weeds) but after i had to replant my raised bed twice because she scratched up the seeds I had just planted I put a little Dave’s Insanity hot sauce in a spray bottle with water and sprayed the outside of the raised bed. She hasn’t been back since. Poor thing.

  10. UgaVic says

    I seem to run into issues when I transplant them outside, they stall so when you get to that part all the ‘tips’ you can think of will be appreciated.

    Thank heavens I am in a zone 5 and have hight tunnels so you are a few weeks to a month ahead of me and I don’t have to be stressed that I am always behind

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