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Leeks


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Leeks



Leeks

CULTURE: A large, upright, nonbulbing type of onion. Matures long, thick, blanched stems topped with 1-1 1/2" wide flat leaves. When cooked, leeks lend a creamy texture, and are sweeter than onions. For large leeks, provide very fertile soil.
GROWING SEEDLINGS: Sow in flats in Feb.-March, 1/4" apart, 1/4" deep. Transplant to 1 1/2" plug flats when large enough to handle, or grow full-sized transplants from direct seeding into a cold frame. Keep well-fertilized. Large transplants will grow the best leeks!
TRANSPLANTING: Beginning in late spring, when 8-18" tall and pencil-thick, transplant outdoors 6" apart, rows 24" apart in holes dibbled about 6" deep. Only 1-2" of leaves need extend above the soil surface. Do not firm soil - allow irrigation or rain to fill in the dibble hole.
DIRECT SEEDING: Sow in early spring, 6 seeds/ft., 1/4- 1/2" deep, in rows 24" apart. Thin to 6" apart for large leeks.
BLANCHING: During the growing period hill the plants with soil 2 or 3 times, higher with each hoeing. This forces the leaves higher up the plant resulting in extra long blanched stalks and a much greater edible portion. When using the "dibble method", hilling is reduced or eliminated.
STORAGE: Wash leeks and store several weeks at near freezing in a humid cooler in boxes, or store in a root cellar with roots in moist soil/sand/peat mix.


Leeks


THE BENEFITS OF LEEKS

Within the Allium garlic, onions, and shallotsóleeks are often overlooked cousins. Though ubiquitous in French, Belgian, and Dutch cooking, leeks in American kitchens tend to be relegated to potato leek soup, if anything. Perhaps it's their rangy appearance (they can grow up to two feet long and two inches thick) or cumbersomeness (the dark, ribbon-like leaves must be removed) that causes American cooks to shy away. But those who do venture to trim leeks and incorporate them into their cooking are in for a rich reward. Not only do leeks have a sweeter, milder flavor than onions and garlic, they also have all the health benefits of their more pungent counterparts and then some.

Leeks and their brethren have multiple benefits for cardiovascular health. Some studies show that Allium vegetables can lower LDL ("bad")cholesterol and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol, an important balance for maintaining healthy arteries. Consuming these vegetables on a regular basis can guard against the build-up of arterial plaque, blood clots, and high blood pressure, all significant risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

Allium vegetables contain compounds called allyl sulfides, which have been shown to protect cells from cancer-causing hormones and chemicals. Studies have demonstrated their particular effectiveness in preventing colon cancer. Leeks, with their gentler taste and aroma, do contain less of these sulfides than their more bitter relatives, garlic and onions, so you'll need to consume more to gain equal benefits. Then again, it's more pleasing to enjoy a side of subtly flavored leeks than a serving of breath-killing garlic.