Are Leeks worth growing?

pduck42(7)January 26, 2013

I have grown bunch onion, regular onions and garlic before. I am tempted to grow some leeks. WOndering if they are worth the effort if people will buy it at our farmer's market where we sell them. IF so, what kind should I buy?
THoughts?
Thanks,
Penny

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Well if you were growing them for your own use then I'd say their value would all depend on how much you like and use them. We love them in cooking and for drying so we grow many.

But if growing them for market then I think it would depend on local demand/interest and that is very different region to region.

Around here you rarely see them in the stores or at the farmer's market. The interest just isn't there. That's one reason why we grow our own. But it may be a very different thing in your area.

Either way they aren't difficult to grow so why not try some and see if they have appeal to you and your market?

Dave

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 12:53PM
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pduck42(7)

Thanks Dave,
I agree. I guess I need to expand my food choices to try them and see how to use them in recipes etc. How do you use them? Like an onion? I know there are recipes that call for leeks and potatoes or leek soup. I'll bite the bullet and take a chance.. what't there to lose, eh??
Thanks Dave!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 1:01PM
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pduck42(7)

Where is a good place to order leeks Dave?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 1:06PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

We order our plants from Dixondale Farms, same place we get all the onion plants that we don't grow from seed. Leeks take to long to grow from seed IMO as I am too busy with other things at the same time.

As for use - anyway you'd use onions where you want a milder taste. Potato-ham-leek soup is a favorite in the winter, great in scrambled eggs or omelets, salads especially potato and pasta salads, on top of baked potatoes, in any soup or stew, and you can pickle them if you are into pickled foods. Wife make a great grits and cheese souffle-like thing with leeks. They store fresh for sometime in the fridge and dehydrate great for long term storage.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Dixondale Farms

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 1:47PM
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stuffradio

I mostly use Leeks in soup. I love Leek soup. It's also good in frying.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 2:00PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Leeks can also be used as a vegetable in their own right, (just cut into strips and sweated in butter or roasted around a joint), and even a main course (steamed in four inch sections and served with a cheese sauce over them), as opposed to a flavouring. Baby leeks in vinaigrette is a delicious starter. They are very widely grown and eaten here. An absolute staple winter vegetable.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 2:05PM
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glib(5.5)

Love leek soup, but unlimited availability of sorrel has guided me away from the original way to cook potatoes and greens in a soup (and, sorrel soup is better). In midwinter we tend to make mostly squash soup or parsnip soup. But restaurants use leeks.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 3:58PM
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ccabal(7)

My wife bought a couple leeks at the supermarket a few months ago, and I asked her to leave me some of the base, so I could plant it, and see if it grows. I dug a couple of holes in my garden and planted them there. They've been there for a few weeks now, but with the colder weather, it has not grown a lot yet. Probably in the spring they will take off, right? Has anyone planted any like this? What was your experience?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 5:57PM
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michelelc

I have also ordered from Dixondale farm for 2 yrs on a row and love their leeks. Great post! I've gotten some great new ideas for using them. I've still got some in the garden now, they last all winter.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 6:51PM
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pduck42(7)

I am convinced. Leeks will be grown this year!!
Thanks
Penny

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 10:18PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I agree. They sell pretty well at $1 each. I started my own from seed last year and didn't weed well and got no crop so this year I have ordered plants from Dixondale. They are expensive so I ordered a whole box. Now I hope people buy that many.

They are very expensive at the store and nasty/old so market fresh ones are good.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 10:30PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

flora_uk, I had to do a double take on(roasted around a joint)! Then I noticed that you are from UK! LOL

I love them steamed on a baked potato with cheese, which I happen to be cooking now. I also use them in soups and scrambled eggs.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 12:46PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Good points Flora. I completely forgot about roasted, boiled, and baked. Good with pot roast, mixed roasted vegetables, and make a great baked casserole either plain with just cheese and tomato sauce or when mixed with other root vegetables like turnips and carrots.

Dave

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 1:26PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Good points Flora. I completely forgot about roasted, boiled, and baked. Good with pot roast, mixed roasted vegetables, and make a great baked casserole either plain with just cheese and tomato sauce or when mixed with other root vegetables like turnips and carrots.

Dave

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 1:27PM
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luckynes13(6a)

I am growing leeks again this year. I always start from seed, I saw a good video on starting them indoors on youtube. So this year I am doing it differently. They said leeks like deep pots, rather than seed trays. You should plant seeds now or asap, as you would with any onion type seed.
In the video, they planted them in deep trays, about 6 inches deep. I planted many in several 6 inch deep pots, so I will see how it works. You plant out in the spring.
youtube is pretty good for gardening tips.

Nes

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 8:57PM
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pduck42(7)

Thanks Luckynes13. Great ideas. Will check it out on utube.
Can't wait to try them!!
Penny

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 9:13PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

Very old fashioned, but leeks in cheese sauce (bechamel+plain cheese)with boiled potatoes and fish, fresh or smoked, is really yummy.
Try silverbeet (aka 'Swiss chard') for a change.
Don't stint on the pepper or nutmeg!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 10:09PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

feijoas - who are you calling old fashioned ;)? leeks in cheese sauce (got to have grilled bacon on top) is a staple winter supper in my house. No potatoes or fish required.

Must be a good sharp strong cheese. We live quite close to Cheddar so can get farmhouse cheese.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 5:41AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I think they are worth growing, they have a sweetness that I adore. If growing for market, I think the one of the keys is being ready with ideas for your customers on how to use them. Many people are not familiar and will need guidance on cleaning and what portions to use.

Leeks are great baked with bleu cheese, bacon and cream. I also love them in cooked with Italian sausage and crushed tomatoes and served over potato gnocchi. Another favorite is sauteed with ground beef or lamb, add short-grain brown rice and water to your skillet and cook until done, add some finely chopped greens (Kale or spinach), dried mint, and ancho or comparable chile, serve with yogurt sauce (a friend of mine learned something similar while living in Turkey).

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 12:19PM
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greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)

How far before last frost date should one start leeks?

I just have my onions started, do leeks take even longer?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 4:35PM
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luckynes13(6a)

You should start your leeks the same time you start your onions.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 4:51PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Onions I seed in the beginning of February, Leeks I start in April.

There are many different types of leeks so planting time will depend if you want summer Leeks or winter ones. I plant Leeks for selling at the winter markets because they hold so well in the ground. I'm still digging them now after all my storage onions are sold.

Starting leeks from seed is just as simple as onions and I wouldn't consider buying plants as you don't get the selection of varieties that are available. Not to mention avoiding all the chemicals Dixondale farm uses.

My favorite variety is Lexton, it's an F1 hybrid so it's more expensive ($27/1000) but produces much better than the open pollenated varieties, in my experience.

-Mark

This post was edited by madroneb on Tue, Feb 5, 13 at 13:06

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:52PM
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highwaygardener(5)

I grew leeks for the first time last year. Started them indoors, and they transplanted surprisingly easily. I did better with those than I did with my Walla Walla seed.

I already knew I liked them and how to cook with them (primarily soups for us). I dried them and they dried really well.

Could you try selling them with recipes to give ideas how to use. Market them as "gourmet" onions.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 4:15PM
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pduck42(7)

Thanks for all the ideas and comments. Will definitely get going on them now!
Penny

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 4:51PM
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afishlady(8b)

An idea I thought of to help sell the leeks is to have a few yummy recipes that people could look at for preparation ideas. Maybe have them on cards that they could take with them? Many have probably heard of leeks and would be willing to try them if they had an idea of what to do with them.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:12AM
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eahamel(9a)

Yes, they're definitely worth growing! I grow them every year. You may be able to find plants in the nurseries when it's time to plant them in your area. The locally owned nurseries always have them here.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:09PM
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foolishpleasure

You can grow Elephant Garlic. It is from leeks family. It has mild taste and it could be eaten fresh, put on salad or used in cooking recipe as garlic is used. It is rare to find it in our local stores but I found Sams Club carrying some. Each bulb weigh more than a pound. I read about it before but never tasted it until I bought it. I am planning to plant some of it.
Abe

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:32PM
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dirtguy50 SW MO z6a(6a)

The thread is about leeks.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:50AM
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dandmorgan

In addition to using them in soups, we make a chicken pot pie with leeks, carrots, kholrabi. We start bye cooking a few strips of crisp bacon then saute all the veggies at moderate heat for about a half hour then add cooked chicken, broth and rue to thicken. Put it in a crust and bake. HMMM. I think I have one left in the freezer that will go nice with the blizzard we're getting today.

Leeks are easy to grow but like a constant amount of moisture and rich soil. We open a row and fill it with compost and stick the leeks in. As the summer goes on rake up the dirt around a little at a time to increase the amount of tender white part of the leek.

They also dry easily and rehydrate them just by adding them to soups, gravies, etc. Enjoy. Potatoe leek soup is easy to make and freezes nicely.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 12:33PM
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foolishpleasure

dirt
Elephant garlic is leek. Read a book or get some knowledge

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 2:26PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Uh,,,,,really? Over this?

Leeks and elephant garlic may not be the same thing, but they're close enough for this thread in my opinion.
If we expect the threads to stay exactly on topic I think it'll get boring real fast.

Of course I say this because I go off topic all the damn time......

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 2:48PM
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luckynes13(6a)

I was happy to hear about the elephant garlic. This has been a very helpful discussion.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 3:18PM
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moosemac(Z5 NH / Z3-4 ME)

I love leeks. They grow better for me than onions. In addition to cooking them, I also dehydrate them and grind them to make leek powder. It has a subtle, delicate onion flavor.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:23PM
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luckynes13(6a)

Penny,
I have some American Flag leeks seeds left over, if you would like some. Just a bit 50-100 seeds, maybe.

Nes

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:11PM
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alaskadixon

We have grown leeks for years and have found them to be a rewarding crop. They are easy to grow and don't attract bugs. Since you mulch them as they grow to keep the stems white weeds are never a problem. You can use them just about anywhere you would use cooked onions. They keep well but for long term storage just slice them into rounds and freeze them on a cookie sheet then keep them freezer bags. Joy of Cooking calls them the King of the Soup Onions. (we do too)

This post was edited by alaskadixon on Fri, Feb 15, 13 at 11:39

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 5:42AM
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pduck42(7)

Thanks Alaskadixon!! Will be planting some for sure!!
Penny

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:46AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Here's a picture of one of my homemade flats of leek seedlings. There are 276 seeds in there, most have sprouted. :) Just to give you something to look at. Cheers!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:35PM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

Leeks are a wonderful fall and winter food. I start seeds in April and plant them in a deep trench in May. Sadly, this year my puppy wanted to help with trench digging after I had carefully transplanted the seedlings and so I lost most of my crop. I am hoping to not have this problem with my leek garden this year. However, my dog still has lots of energy and a strong desire to excavate the soil.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 1:59PM
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wvbetsy(z6WV)

I still have some I started last year growing in my garden. I read they are heavy feeders. Mine didn't get as large as I thought they would which means I will pay attention fertilizing this year. I made roasted potato leek soup and it was so good.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 9:43PM
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zzita(8)

I love leeks! In my zone I can leave them in the ground all winter, like potatoes. In the spring if I have too many left I slice them thin, stir-fry them, and freeze them.

I like to eat the tender, green parts too, not just the white. And I use the tough outer leaves to make stock.

I use them in pretty much any dish as a substitute for onions. Thai chicken soup, stir fry, noodle casseroles, etc.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 10:39PM
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