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Leeks - can you grow them without transplanting

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I've never sown without  transplanting (I dib 'em in deep - much to SWMBO's amusement, she says they look as though they are hiding in foxholes), but my next-door neighbour on the plots had a row of what were surely leek seedlings coming up on hers in December.

I transplanted some leeks & brassicas into the PT last month (later than ideal) - I do this with any slow, stunted seedlings left over from a spring sowing.

Both crops bulk up much faster under cover at this time of year. After all there's not much else in there apart from a few strawberries between the buried (empty) pots that are waiting for next summer's toms, peppers & aubergines.

The leeks hadn't reached pencil size - the biggest were about half that - I found it annoying to transplant so many tiny root balls so close to each other (12-15cm).

Then I remembered the leek section in Lawrence D Hills' book, where he said that it's traditional to cut all the roots off them before just dibbing holes and puddling them.

Unlike many authors who just plagiarise, Hills would ask why...

Apparently the thinking was that the majority of the roots got broken anyway when digging out the nursery bed, and such roots were useless because leek roots can't branch and grow on... - so you might as well get rid of the lot to save time.

I have to say I've never seen a branched leek root (or onion or garlic for that matter) so it seems to make sense.

I don't know how successful this will be for sub-pencil size so I tried it with the bigger ones (quick and easy) and gave the smaller ones holes to suit their root balls (slow and tedious - some small leeks have surprisingly large root balls, but washing them to make them drop cleanly into dibber holes is even more tedious).

It remains to be seen what happens, but if they all survive I'll report back, and I will certainly trim the whole of the next batch. In fact I'll probably do that anyway - provided the half-pencil ones don't actually get overtaken.

Lots of sources say it makes no difference in their experience - so why are they happy to spend an extra 30 or 40 seconds planting each root ball?

They make so little sense they're just using random words, not language. (I did try dumping them into a little trench but the extra soil movement used up the same time).


There are some interesting youtube videos by  Charles Dowding about growing leeks. He puts several seeds in a module and then plants them all out as a clump.  The stems are greener but he seems to get good amounts of crops.


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