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Leeks Autumn Mammoth 2, Hannibal
This fantastic vegetable is very hardy. You can get early varieties that are ready in the Summer but most Leeks are grown for harvesting through Autumn and Winter.
Leeks are also easy to grow and dibbing them, as described below, is a fun gardening job to do.
Leeks are Alliums, members of the onion family. They have a small flat bulb and large, long, flat leaves that start white and end in a dark green. The leaves are tightly wrapped to form a tall cylinder shape that could be called, (but is not), the stem. The flavour is onion-like but also distinctly its own.
They have been cultivated since the middle ages and the Leek is the national emblem of Wales.
Hannibal is an excellent leek for harvesting August to November. Good yields of medium-length, fine-flavoured leeks which show good resistance to bulbing.
How to grow:
Sow in the Allium section of your rotation.
You can sow seeds in modules or trays inside in February and March, but they are very easy to do in a seed bed sown outside during March and April.
Sprinkle the seeds in shallow drills 15cm apart. Keep watered during dry weather. In early Summer when the plants are about 10-15cm tall and about the thickness of a pencil, they are ready to transplant.
Using a dibber make holes 15-20 cm deep and 15cm apart. Carefully lift the Leek plants and separate them. You can trim the roots by two thirds and the tops of the plant but this is not absolutely necessary. Drop the plants into the holes and fill the hole with water or a weak seaweed solution.
Some soil will fall in to cover the roots but do not refill the holes with soil. The plants will grow and swell filling the hole and be ready to harvest from late Summer to Winter depending on the variety.
Pests and diseases:
Leeks are easy to grow and do not suffer much from pests and diseases. Rust can sometimes be a problem but it is largely cosmetic.
How to cook:
Cut the root off and the tough outer green leaves. Leeks need a good clean as they can sometimes be a bit gritty. You can slice them in half lengthways and rinse them or cut them into discs rinsing between the rounds if you find a bit of dirt.
Leeks can be sautéed or roasted. Great in stews, they make the perfect soup with potatoes, or side vegetable in a white sauce.
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