Everybody has a favorite vegetable. I have a favorite for each month- well two- a favorite to plant, and a favorite to eat. For April they are both leeks. We are finishing off the last few of the wonderful midwinter harvest planted last April, and it is time to put in a new crop for next year.
You might think leeks have one use- leek and potato soup. You are wrong. Leeks have a mild onion and garlic flavor, and are good in soups, stir fries, and as a stand alone dish. And leeks produce more food per square foot than any other crop you can grow.
I can hear you are convinced, and ready to plant.
Dig a hole in your garden 8 inches deep, 2 feet wide, and 4 feet long. Save the dirt in a pile near the hole for later.
Buy a flat of spaghetti thin leek plants. A hundred will cost three dollars. Next, using a stick or a hand trowel, plant the little leeks six inches apart, and five inches deep in the soil at the bottom of the hole. Only an inch or two of the seedling will be above the soil- the rest will be buried.
After a month, the leeks will have grown enough that you can bury the green part with the soil that was in the hole. Leave just a few inches of leek above the surface, and bring the ground level back to what it was originally.
The leeks will be growing all summer- and fall, so don't plant them in a spot that will be shaded by corn or tomatoes. The plants need to be watered like any other summer crop, but because the roots are so far down in the soil, they need soaking- like you get with a drip system- not a surface sprinkling.
Once the leeks are six inches above the soil line again, a layer of mulch will keep the weeds down.
Dig up the leeks a few at a time November through March. Cut off the roots, clean off the dirt, and get creative. All that burying should give you a foot of sweet tasty vegetable. The French and some cookbooks say to only use the white part of the leek. But I say Manger la partie verte assi . Eat the tender green parts too. Ju suis John Fischer for KLCC's Bon le jardinage.