Did you know some varieties of leek can be left in the garden all winter?
You’ll remember this post where I went and mangled carrots pulling them out of the frozen ground in December? After struggling to get them out I concluded the abandoned leeks were just going to have to stay put until spring.
Well, I was out digging in the garden for the first time this weekend and the good news is nothing ate the leeks. The bad news is they were mushy. This surprised me because after I got the carrots I read up on leeks and found out that some in colder climates over-winter their leeks and harvest them in early spring. So I asked myself, what happened to mine?
Luckily a lightbulb went off when I was digging and turned up the little flag that came with the starter leeks identifying them as “American Flag” variety. Did you know there are summer and winter leeks? It didn’t occur to me that not all varieties of leek would be cold-hardy enough to survive the winter! Apparently summer leeks mature grow taller and mature faster, and are therefore ready to eat by the end of summer, while winter leeks need longer to grow but will tolerate winter in the garden much better.
Some summer varieties of leek include Atal and King Richard, while winter varieties include Northern Lights, Below Zero, Bandit and Tadorna. It’s worth keeping in mind when researching varieties that even amongst cold-hardy varieties some will winter better than others. Apparently American Flag is supposed to be a relatively cold-hardy kind, but in all fairness I did leave it completely uncovered through a long Canadian winters. I think I should cut it some slack.
While I am a little disappointed that leek didn’t work out the first year I tried to grow it I have since discovered a favourite soup recipe that needs leek, so I am determined to try again!
On a final note please enjoy my favourite vegetable joke of all time, from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs:
Happy Long Weekend!