If you want to be making leek and potato soup all winter, now is a good time to sow leek seeds outside.
Leeks can be sown outdoors directly into shallow drills in a sunny spot and April and May provide a good time to sow seeds as the ground warms up. Add some organic matter like well rotted manure or compost to the soil about a month before sowing if possible, or sprinkle some fish, blood and bone fertiliser into the soil before sowing.
Removing as many stones as possible from the ground gives leeks the best chance of growing long and straight.
To sow leek seeds, draw a straight line in the soil about 1cm/1/4in deep. Sow the seeds in the line 2cm/3/4in apart, and bring the soil gently back over the seeds and firm down. If making a second row, space it around 10cm/4in apart from the first row.
You should start to see seedlings emerging in as little as 2-3 weeks. Be very careful not to weed them out as they will look like blades of grass.
Keep watering the seedlings until the plants are established and like all veg, do not let them dry out.
Keep the soil bed moist but not waterlogged and apply a feed of a general purpose liquid fertiliser every few weeks.
Leeks grow well beside carrots (helping to repel carrot root fly), beetroots, celery, onions, and spinach but should not be planted near beans and peas.
Leeks are ready to harvest once the shaft reaches around 3cm in diameter and from an April sowing, this may mean they are not ready to harvest almost November. They can be left in the ground even over winter, and just harvested as needed right through until March the following year.
Always use a fork to lever the leek gently from the ground.
Leeks can be stored wrapped in a damp paper towel in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days, just trim the roots and wash the leaves and stem before refrigerating.
Leek and potato soup all winter, from a small packet of seeds – result!