Tuesday, February 23, 2010

THE GROWING SEASON BEGINS

The 2010 vegetable gardening season is officially under way in my house.  First honors went to our
favorite member of the onion family, leeks.  Leeks purchased at the market are expensive.  A bundle of
three usually costs in excess of $3.00.  For the same price you can purchase a packet containing 350
seeds.  I like that kind of payback. 

The seeds were started in a 72 cell tray.  Two or three seeds  were
placed in each cell and covered with a 1/4" potting soil.  The tray was
watered and a clear plastic dome was placed over the tray to help keep the seeds moist.  I then placed the tray on a heat mat with a thin barrier
of cloth to help moderate the heat.  Optimum soil temperature is 75
degrees.  In about 10 days the young plants will begin to emerge.  I
will then pick the healthiest plant in each cell and cut the rest.

Leeks are relatively easy to grow.  In late May the seedlings will
be large enough to be transplanted to the garden and the weather will warm up enough to provide the
best conditions for planting.  I use a dibble to make a hole in the ground, pour in a teaspoon full of
organic fertilizer and drop the seedling in the hole.  I make holes every 6 inches in all directions.  From
then on it is just a matter of keeping the leek patch watered and weeded.  Like onions, leeks don't like
competition.  We begin to harvest leeks in late September and continue to harvest until the ground freezes.   Whatever leeks we don't use will overwinter and be harvested in the spring.

The variety that I planted is noted for it's ability to overwinter successfully.  It is called BANDIT and was purchased from Johnny's
Selected Seeds.

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