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Harvesting and Storing Leeks

Harvesting and Storing Leeks

24/01/2013

Harvesting And Storing Leeks

Because you have planted your leeks quite deep in the ground to increase the amount of white stem, you have to be a little careful pulling them out again, so you don't snap them off.



This short video from
Smart Growers shows you how:






Heeling In

"Heeling in" is a traditional technique used by vegetable gardeners. Essentially it means digging your mature leeks up and planting them again, but closer together and more shallow. Leeks will happily sit in the ground for months, and winter varieties will be ok right up until March, so you don't need to dig them up. However when you grow leeks they are quite well spaced apart so they use a fair bit of room. If you have a busy veggie patch you may want to get on with turning over the patch they are in and plant something else in it or prepare it for next year.

So you can dig up your leeks and then plant them anyway you want, and much closer together, and in a shallow bit of soil. The plants will not grow much more after this, but they will survive for weeks because of their ability to reroot in the shallow soil. It is called heeling in because gardeners essentially dig a shallow trench, pack a row of leeks into it, then push soil up to pack them in, and then firm it a little with their heel (or their boots, at least!)

There are three advantages to heeling in:
- the replanted leeks take up less space and you can use the space they were in before;
- you can heel them in closer to the house, so when you're dashing out on cold winter days to get one they are in a more convenient spot and;
- they are dug in more shallow, so you can get them out easily. If you have a cold spell and the soil is frozen, it can be impossible sometimes for a couple of weeks at a time and you find they snap off in the soil easily. When they are heeled in the soil is shallow and loose and you can still pull them in the coldest conditions.

I have been unable to find any videos on heeling it, but if you google "heeling in leeks" and look for images you will be able to see some pictures of tightly packed leeks in a trench being heeled in.


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