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Posts Tagged ‘leeks’

Every month we will be featuring a vegetable or fruit which is in season. This month it’s the Leek. The Leek is a very hardy vegetable withstanding all that the british winter weather can throw at it, yet it is an easy vegetable to grow and quite low maintenance, and will sit quite happily waiting to be harvested.

Cultivation

Leeks on the allotment ready to be picked

Leeks need a sunny site and well drained fertile soil, a raised bed would be ideal, dig in organic matter/ farmyard manure into the soil in the autumn and then a general fertilizer such as chicken manure at least a week before planting.

Seeds can be planted individually in seed cells or small pots in seed compost, cover lightly with seed compost or vermiculite and water well. Seeds can be germinated in a propagator (55-60F) and once through should be placed in a bright position (windowsill, frost free greenhouse or polytunnel). Once the young plants have a stem the thickness of a pencil they need to be hardened off and can then be transferred to their final planting position.

Leeks can be planted in rows and should be spaced out 15cm between plants and 30cm between rows. Make a hole using a dibber about 15cm deep and drop the plant into the bottom so that a little of the leaf is visible, water each well to settle the roots but do not fill the hole with soil. If there is a dry spell you may need to give the plants some extra water. You can feed the plants occasionally throughout the summer with chicken manure until the beginning of September and keep them weed free.

Harvesting

Leeks can be picked at any stage even if they are the thickness of a pencil (ideal for-stir fries or salads) or can be left longer to reach full size although there is some loss of flavour as their size increases. Never try to wrench the plant out of the soil lift gently with a fork, any excess leaves or roots can go into the compost bin.

Once harvested put the unwashed leeks in a plastic bag into the fridge where they will keep for up to 5 days. To clean your leek before eating one of the best ways is to slit down the middle with a knife and open them up under running water. If you have a glut or need the space Leeks can be frozen, simply clean them discarding the leaves and roots and chop the trunk of the stem into 2.5cm pieces before placing in a labelled freezer bag where they will keep in the freezer for 3 months.

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I opened my backdoor this morning to find great piles of parsnips and leeks deposited on the step – which is always a sign that someone has been down to the allotment and harvested the latest that the season has to offer! 

Keen to devour the harvest fresh from the plot I set about making this very easy vegetable bake for the family.  Vegetables in season are cheaper to buy, taste so much better and have travelled far fewer miles to reach your local supermarket. 

Better still if you grow your own you can enjoy the food delights of every season, with the fabulous satisfaction of having nurtured them from seed.  So for gardening inspiration visit www.recycleworks.co.uk.

Ingredients 

  • 500g potatoes thinly sliced
  • 500g parsnips thinly sliced
  • 1 kg carrots thinly sliced
  • 1kg leeks thinly sliced
  • 700 ml cream
  • 4 tbsp mustard
  • 4 tbsp mixed herbs
  • Grated parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Wash all the vegetables, peel & slice thinly

Boil the potatoes, parsnips and carrots for 3 minutes

Saute the leeks for a few minutes in a small amount of butter

Mix the cream, mustard and herbs together 

Put the lightly cooked vegetables to a baking dish

Pour over the cream and mix well with the vegetables

Top with breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese

Bake for 45 min to an hour until gently browned on the top.  Yum!

For everything you need to grow your own!

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