Posts Tagged ‘Harvesting Leeks’

Leek Harvest

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
Harvesting Leeks

Harvesting Leeks

It was 19 degrees today with a low of 2 predicted for tonight.  I knew it was time to harvest the leeks before they froze into the ground.  We’ve had a lot of below freezing temperatures, but I had the leeks well covered with a layer of agricultural fabric topped over with a layer of polyethylene.  I was hoping they were doing alright.

To my pleasant surprise, the earth under the cover was soft and moist even though the ground surrounding the leek bed was frozen solid.  The ground was so warm, in fact, that earthworms were working the soil.

Harvested Leeks

Harvested Leeks

I started the harvest using a small border fork, but I soon switched to the broadfork, which made the work go a lot faster.  It only took about 20 minutes to get half the leeks dug out and into a wheel barrow.

Leeks Under Cover

Leeks Under Cover

I decided to trust my good luck and re-cover the other half for a later harvest, since I knew Judy wouldn’t want to deal with all those leeks at one time.  Still in the ground are the cold hardy American Flag leeks.  I may consider packing them in with leaves over the next couple days to see how far into the winter, or even spring, we can keep them going.

Lincoln Leeks

Lincoln Leeks

These leeks are a variety called Lincoln.  They are considered an early harvest leek.  Here the roots and leaves have been trimmed off and the outer wraps removed.  A couple inches of the top green parts that are not tender will be cut away.  Some will be stored in the refrigerator, but most will be chopped and frozen.

 

 

 

Last of the Leeks

Saturday, December 15th, 2012
Leeks Under Leaves

Leeks Under Leaves

I took the opportunity of a nice afternoon yesterday to harvest the leeks remaining in the garden.  I had piled up leaves around them to prevent them from freezing.   I could have left them in a while longer, but with rains today and tomorrow, to be followed by some very cold nights, now was the time to get them out of the ground.

Cleaning Out the Leaves

Cleaning Out the Leaves

The Narrow Blade Gets in Tight Areas

The Narrow Blade Gets in Tight Areas

I used my CobraHead Long Handle to clean away the leaves packed around the leeks.  It works well for that task, much easier than trying to use a rake or scraping them out by hand.  The soil was quite soft under the leaves.  If the soil were bare, it would have been frosted.  The insulating properties of the leaves really make a noticeable difference.

Using a Garden Fork to Harvest Leeks

Using a Garden Fork to Harvest Leeks

A garden fork made it easy to the lift the leeks out without doing any damage.  While I had lots of nice fat ones and many long stems, they weren’t uniformly perfect.  Next year, I’m going to follow advice from Eliot Coleman that I learned in a talk of his I attended.  In his greenhouses, he uses a specially designed one inch diameter dowel as a dibble and makes a nine inch deep hole.  He puts a pre-sprouted leek in each hole, but does not fill the soil back in.  He lets the soil in the holes fill itself back in as the holes are watered and naturally collapse.  This method produces uniform long stemmed leeks and I can’t wait to try it.

Some Nice Fat Ones

Some Nice Fat Ones

Here are the leeks ready to be cleaned.  This final harvest represents about one quarter of the leeks we’ve harvested from one bed this year.

After Removing the Roots and Leaves

After Removing the Roots and Leaves

Normally I would wash them outside after cutting off most of the root, but as it was just above freezing and I’ve already put the hoses away for the winter, I just cut off the roots and most of the leaf material.

Almost Clean Leeks

Almost Clean Leeks

Here is the almost finished product.  The final preparation is to clean off any bad ends and dark green leaves, saving only the white and light green parts.

We cut the leek through most of the length, leaving the root portion intact and wash any dirt that may be between the layers.  These leeks will be frozen.  Prep from here is merely to dice and put in freezer bags.  Frozen, they are ready for soups, stir fries and sautés.

Leeks are easy to grow, their culture is pretty much the same as onions.  They almost never have any disease or bug problems and most good cooks consider them an essential vegetable.