Early September garden update

A few interesting things to note as the gardening season winds down.  My community garden is open until November 1st and I will most likely still be harvesting at least a few things until the end of the season such as parsley and leeks.

Speaking of Leeks…….early-sept4

I know right?   Would you like to Know How to Grow Leeks?


I am starting to get some peppers.  Mostly chili-types like banana peppers.



I have not gotten a single bell pepper this year and barely have gotten any the last three years.  The bell pepper plants have decent size but the leaves are a little curled and brown at the tips and the flowers fall off without being pollinated.  I need to spend some time to figure out what the  heck is going on before I waste any more time growing bell peppers.


My Sorghum X Sudangrass is coming back with a  vengeance.  That is its nature and one of the reasons why I chose it for my garden.  When it is cut it doubles down on growth.  It is now back up to near 6 feet tall.  I might have to mow again!  I need some cattle I think.




Do not give up on your garden just yet.  We are supposed to get relief from the heat with some rain.  Plenty of time left before first frost date and most vegetables like fall weather just fine.  I am hoping for a late tomato harvest if the plants set flowers.  I will be harvesting herbs, peppers, eggplant, leeks, butternuts and tomatoes for hopefully another 4-6 weeks.

How to grow Leeks, part 5.

For a recap of the prior posts from square one:

The last couple few weeks I have been slowly pulling soil up from the sides of the trenches that I planted the leeks in.  Remember, the best part of the leek is the white part that becomes blanched to that color by avoiding sunlight.

Once the soil is level I deeply mulch the plant.  I had mostly hay with some straw laying around.  This does a good job of blanching the leek as well as keeping the soil moist and suppressing weeds.



Leeks have a long growing season.  It is important that you water them if you do not receive an inch of water per week.  This will allow for a continuous amount of growth until harvest.  I put a balanced slow release granular fertilizer in the planting hole originally but due to the long growing season the leeks will need at least one more, if not two,  rounds of fertilizer.  Due to the deep mulch I will use a water soluble fertilizer sometime in early summer and then maybe once more in late summer.  The mulch will help with weeds, but keep an eye out for any trouble.

Want to learn more about what fertilizers to use.  You need to attend the Free class on Tuesday June 14th at 7pm at the Youth Center.

How to Grow Leeks, Part 4.


We are now ready to put the leeks in the garden.  Not a hard step to do and I have layed it all out in pics for you.

To revisit:


Get a spot ready in the garden.  Full sun is important.  You could probably get by with 8 hours of sun, but if you can swing it, find a great spot.

You are looking for the greatest amount of the white/blanched stalk of the leek.  While all parts of the leaves are edible, the white parts are prized.  I dig down about 6 inches deep in my garden.



Next step is to take some fertilizer and finished compost and add it to the bottom of your trenches.  This will be the root zone for the leek plants and you will not have another chance to get soil amendments this deep.



While you are digging you might find some stuff you do not want to be in your garden.

Left side: Amazing pernicious perennial weed that roots off small pieces.  I think it is a bindweed of some sort. 

Right side: Japanese beetle grub – left in the open for the birds

I layed out my seedling about 6″ on center then dug them down another inch or two.  Might as well go for State Fair level Leeks if you are planting right?



Once planted, the seedling get a big drink.  I will water around the plant letting the soil settle in around gradually while they grow.  At this point they are pretty spindly looking things.  A little kindness early on will pay off down the road.








How to grow Leeks, part 3.

So now your leeks are looking pretty good,  the weather is back to spring.   It is time to harden off the seedlings.  The process of hardening off a seedling is where you put them outside in a controlled environment like a cold frame so that the seedlings can gradually acclimate to an outdoor lifestyle.   I would have done this about a week ago but Mother Nature did not cooperate with the 25 degrees and 20 mph winds.

So outside they go. leek13

They are simply going on a table in my backyard as the weather projection is for moderate temperatures and little wind/rain.  They have been awhile since they have had a haircut and they are looking pretty shaggy, so after a quick trim, they will stay outside for the next few days with a sunday or monday planting target.




Keep track of water needs as they can dry out in sun and wind faster than in your basement and make sure you continue to bottom water with a dilute water soluble complete fertilizer until planting time.

How to grow Leeks part 2.

How to grow Leeks part 1.


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How to grow Leeks, part two.

For part one of How to grow Leeks, CLICK HERE

So now your leeks are looking super tall under the lights and are starting to get too long.



Not a problem.  Take some scissors and give them a haircut to about  2 – 3″ tall.   You can cut them every couple of weeks this way until transplant time outdoors.



The trimmings can be used like chives.


How to grow leeks.

I have been teaching about growing vegetables for many years.  I grow vegetables because I like to cook and you get the best product if you grow it yourself.   My criteria for selecting what to grow is that I either grow things that taste best when you grow it fresh like tomatoes, or  I grow things that cost money in the store but are really not hard to grow at all, like lettuce and leeks.

I will say that pretty much every class I have ever taught when I mention leeks I always get questions on the topic as I think there is a misconception about growing leeks.  It is not hard at all. In fact;

  • Leeks are easy to grow
  • Leeks are cheap to grow
  • Leeks are generally easy to care for

So lets get started.  What you need to grow leeks:

  1. A basement grow set up.  WANT TO LEARN HOW TO SET THIS UP?
  2. Leek seed
  3. Soilless mix/Seed Starting mix
  4. Pots, water, you get the idea


Start with a small flat, pot, six-pack, whatever.   Fill to within one-half inch of top edge of container with moist seed starting mix.  Firm gently, sprinking seed on top being generous.  Sprinkle the top of the soil/seed with vermiculite or more soil less mix to cover.   Top water gently, wait until it germinates.



This was a plastic tray mushrooms from the store came in.  I like the size and it is sturdy.  As you can see I put a whole bunch of seed on there.   Leek seed is one of the only species of seeds that don’t really do well year to year so I planted about half a package.  Leek seed, as with all the Alliums, takes a good 10-14 days to germinate so be patient.  Normally with most vegetables you need to thin when they hit first true leaf, but I don’t do that with leeks like I would with tomato or lettuce.

When you have the first true leaf it is time to gently seperate the plants to move them one stage up, into individual cells.  Most plants appreciate you being gentle.  You can pick them up by the leaves or the root ball, just do not abuse the stem.  Leeks (and most onion types) are tougher than most.  I just gently seperate them in a pan.



Make sure that you tease them apart and not tear the roots too much.  It helps if the dirt is wet when you do this.  Put a little bit of soil in each planting cell then put a leet plant in it.  Each little transplant should have a few roots coming off the stem end.



Next you backfill with more soil around each plant about up to the rim of each cell or pot.  Gently firm the soil around each transplant and make sure the roots are all buried.  Put the containers into water that has a little bit of fertilizer in it.  Remember, each seed has enough nutrients in it to get a leaf or two going, but then they need fertilizer.





The blue mushroom container planting flat had enough little seedlings that after careful division and transplanting ended up giving me 63 plants.   Look for further installments on this website as they grow.