Posts Tagged ‘leeks’

Starting Onions Indoors

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
Onion Flats Under Lights

Onion Flats Under Lights

Here are three flats of onions I planted on February 8th, 9 days ago. Most of the nearly 1,600 seeds are sprouting nicely in flats in the basement. The flats are on a heat mat and lit with various LED grow lights we have accumulated over the last few years.

The onions are growing in a commercial potting soil. I used to make my own potting soils, but I’ve found the commercial mixes to be much more reliable in giving me good strong root growth, and they are certainly a lot easier to work with. Mostly, I’ve been using Jiffy Mix. Jiffy now offers organic mixes and they sell it in large bags, which I like, since I go through a lot.

Copra Onion Seedlings

Copra Onion Seedlings

These seedlings are Copra onions, a very reliable commercial yellow hybrid storage onion that I’ve grown many times. Also planted is Red Bull, a red storage hybrid, new for us. That’s it for the hybrids, the rest of the crop includes, Borretta Cipollini, an old time heirloom flat Italian onion that we’ve only grown once before, and Rossa Lunga di Tropea, a torpedo shaped red Italian heirloom that we have not previously grown.

Finally, we have just over 300 Lincoln leeks seedlings. Lincoln is an old American heirloom that normally does well, although I had a leek crop failure last year. I know my mistake and I hope to have a good leek harvest by replanting my leeks to another outside bed for some growth before I plant them deeply in their final home.

I’ll start fertilizing the flats, soon, and transfer them upstairs to a south facing window to free up the heat mats for tomatoes and other crops that also need the heat to get started.

Oven Roasted Caramelized Leeks

Monday, December 23rd, 2013
Raw Chopped Leeks

Raw Chopped Leeks

We had another abundant harvest of leeks.  A full garden bed of 300 leeks is a bit much for just the two of us but it forces me to be more creative in my storage and cooking.  They do store fresh for 3 to 4 weeks, washed and bagged in the refrigerator.  I also slice and store raw leeks in the freezer for use in soups, stews and rice.

For caramelized leeks it takes about a half hour to brown the leeks in a cast iron frying pan but, I decided to try the oven method.  I knew it would take longer, but I wouldn’t be constantly stirring them.

Here’s how:

Carefully wash and slice enough leeks to fit in your broiler pan or baking dish.  Toss with 2-3 T. olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out in pan and roast for about 2 hours at 300 degrees.  Stir or mix about every ½ hour bringing the outer edges of browned leeks into the center of pan.  Experiment with the oven temperature.  The second time I made these the leeks were roasted for about an hour at 350 degrees.  You will have to stir them a little more often, every fifteen minutes, so they don’t burn or get too crispy.

I used part of the finished product in my wild rice bread stuffing and froze the rest in small containers – ready for whatever I choose to make.

Let us know what other uses you come up with!

 

Caramelized Leeks

Caramelized 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.

Anticipating the Main Harvest

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Here Come the Tomatoes

With this year’s warm weather, we’ll be picking things from the garden a lot earlier than most years.  I’m often late getting things started, but I did a good job of getting the tomatoes, peppers, and cole crops into the ground before the end of May.  The early start coupled with the hot weather is giving us veggies in July that we normally don’t start harvesting until August.  All in all, it appears we will have a good harvest as we go into late summer and fall.

Hot Peppers

This small bed holds most of the hot peppers.  In the foreground are Serranos and behind them are cayennes and some various Asian hot peppers.  Judy likes to freeze Serrano peppers.  She should have plenty.  The cayennes are exceptionally large this year and the pepper plants, in general, are taller than what I usually get.

Sweet Peppers

In front of the asparagus is my second pepper bed.  The small plants in front are Poblanos.  They are loaded with fruit.  The rest of the bed contains various sweet peppers.  I have a lot of Nardellos, the American-Italian heirloom that we like a lot.  Those too are very heavy with peppers.  Behind and to the right of the peppers are two potato beds, one red and one yellow.  Both are doing well.  I’ve already snitched a few red ones.

Sweet Potatoes

The sweet potatoes are loving the heat.  I can’t see what’s going on down below the vines, but I’m hoping for the best.  I’ve been covering the vines with ag fabric to keep the deer from munching on them.  The deer love sweet potato leaves.

Sweet Corn

We ate our first sweet corn, yesterday,  I only have one bed this year.  Most years I get two beds planted.  I’m inter-planting the corn with two heirloom pole beans that have traditionally been grown using corn stalks for trellises.  One bean is called Turkey Craw, the other is Missouri Wonder.  The beans in the corn have a long way to go, but they look just fine.

Leeks, Pole Beans, Tomatoes, and Onions

Here is my main bean crop, with leeks in the bed to the left, tomatoes, tomatillos, and eggplants in the bed to the right of the beans, and onions to right of the tomatoes.  You can see another bed of tomatoes in the back right and in front of those are two blue barrel rings holding some fingerling potatoes which I just planted.  It’s my plan to keep adding soil to the rings as the potatoes grow to try to get a larger yield.  I haven’t done this before, so we’ll have to see if it works.

The pole beans in the front of the picture are trellised onto four tripods.  Behind them in the same bed are bush beans.  They are just flowering but I expect good production.  Last year we had a similar size set up that got somewhat eaten by deer and we still had a huge harvest.   I expect a lot more beans this year.  We are getting Japanese beetles in the beans, but I’m able to keep ahead of much damage by cleaning off the beetles using my funnel trap, which you can read about here.

Ripening Egg Plants

I went overboard with the eggplants, I just didn’t have the heart to cull out the nice seedling starts, so we have 16 eggplants.  I normally grow four to six.  They are looking great.  We’re trying to figure out the best way to freeze them – any suggestions?

Three Cabbages

Here are three good looking cabbages in one of two beds dedicated to cole crops.  The other bed is under ag fabric.  Most of this bed was used to grow kohlrabi and we’ve already harvested about half the planting.  Judy talks about using kohlrabi in her recipe post.  I’ve been spraying my coles with a neem oil, soap, and seaweed mixture and that seems to have really made a huge difference on damage from  cabbage moths.  The moth eggs hatch but the caterpillars die when they eat leaves  containing neem oil.  While the neem spray hasn’t done much for the squash it seems very effective in the coles.

Zucchini #2

Here is our second zucchini.  We picked the first, yesterday.  We’ll have lots, I’ve got five healthy plants.  The squash, melons, cukes, and zukes all got a late start.  While the zucchini are doing well I’m really having some major problems both with cucumber beetles and squash vine borers.  I’m definitely going to lose a few squash and melon plants.  I always tell people starting out in gardening to grow a lot of different stuff.  Some will always succeed and even if you lose an entire crop of one vegetable you’ll still have plenty of the others.

Mammoth Sunflowers

These Mammoth Sunflowers are already ten feet tall and they aren’t done growing.  Their stalks are like tree trunks.

Unfortunately, this could be a year without basic root crops.  No carrots or beets in the ground, yet.  It’s not too late for either for a fall crop if I can get to it, but in any case, we’ll get plenty from the garden, this year.