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Leek (Āllium pōrrum) is a representative of the onion family popular in gardening and a close relative of onions and garlic. Unlike them, this biennial plant does not have a pronounced thickening in the basal part, and its stem leaves the center of the scales collected in a cylindrical bundle. Leaf blades of leek linearly lanceolate.
Leek blooms in the second year of life with small elongated flowers of white or slightly pinkish color, collected in large spherical inflorescences. Flowering time coincides with the onset of constant heat (in the middle lane - the end of June, in the more northern regions - mid or end of July). Fruits, trihedral black achenes, are formed by the beginning or middle of autumn.
Leek is a relatively winter-hardy crop. With additional warming with a layer of peat and sawdust, as well as with high hilling, plants winter in the climate typical of the middle zone. Leek is demanding on moisture, so it grows better on high humus and loamy soils. Nevertheless, this type of onion grows poorly in acidic waterlogged areas.
The benefits of leeks
Pearl onion (this is the second botanical name for leek) is an extremely healthy product. It contains a whole galaxy of vitamins, as well as biotin, mineral salts, sulfur and essential oils. Leek is recommended for rheumatic diseases, gout, urolithiasis and obesity.
With regular use in food, it regulates the production of enzymes in the stomach and liver, normalizes the blood formation process and strengthens the immune system. Despite its benefits and nutrition, leek is considered a dietary product. 100 g of this product contains only 36 kcal.
The only contraindication for the use of leek in food - exacerbation of gastritis and gastric ulcer. The essential oils contained in it can irritate the mucous membranes of the digestive tract.
How to Grow Leeks
The best varieties
In order to enjoy the benefits and wonderful taste of pearl onions and to prepare them for future use, experienced vegetable growers recommend growing several varieties of this vegetable with early, medium and late ripening. The most popular varieties are collected in the following table.
|Grade name||Ripening period||Description||Productivity kg / sq.m.|
|Bulgarian giant||Early (130-150 days)||The height of the legs reaches 45 cm, with a diameter of up to 4 cm. Leaf blades are bluish-green. For long-term storage, processing and fresh consumption.||5, with good agricultural technology 6|
|Vesta||Early (135-140 days)||The height of the bleached part is 50 cm with a diameter of up to 3 cm. The taste is semi-sharp, universal purpose. When buried in sand, the basement lasts up to 5 months. Leaf blades up to 5 cm wide, light green.||3,8-4|
|Quarantine||Medium (150 to 170 days)||The bleached part grows up to 10-25 cm in height, its diameter rarely exceeds 4 cm. One of the most frost-resistant varieties.||3,5-4|
|Pandora||Medium (150-165 days)||Leg 20-25 cm tall, with a diameter of not more than 5 cm. Leaf blades dark, dense. Suitable for processing, keeping fresh.||Up to 4|
|Kiavar||Medium (from 165 to 170 days)||The leg is thin, the leaf plates are delicate and narrow. It is used mainly on greens, as it has a stronger taste and aroma than other varieties.||No more than 4,5|
|Winter giant||Late (from 180 to 200 days)||The thickness of the stem reaches 7 cm with a height of not more than 25 cm. Purpose - fresh use. Differs in high frost resistance.||5 to 7|
|Autumn giant||Late (175-190 days)||Leg 20-25 cm high. Designed for long-term storage and processing.||6|
Visually distinguish late varieties from early ones by the appearance of plants, even if you plant them mixed in one bed. In early varieties, leaves depart from the stem at an acute angle, and the longer the ripening of leeks, the greater the angle between them. In the latest varieties, leaf blades are located almost parallel to the soil.
Dates and rules of landing
There are not many ways to grow leeks, more precisely, there are only two of them - seedling and seedling. The first is more suitable for the southern regions, because only there the temperature of the soil and air allows the plant to complete the formation of the root system and the terrestrial part. The second is ideal for the middle zone, the Siberian and Far Eastern regions, as well as for the northern regions, because there leek often lacks light and heat for aging.
Sow leek in the ground in the southern regions of Russia begin on May 15. At the same time, it is recommended to prepare the beds in advance, filling them with nutritious organic mixtures and covering with a black film in the autumn so that they warm up faster.
Prepared (disinfected and germinated) seeds are sown according to the scheme 12-15 x 15-20 cm. Plantings are well shed with water and covered with a transparent film or dome made of polycarbonate (or any other translucent material).
Leek seedlings begin to be sown in mid-February. For this they use ordinary boxes or special cassettes with peat (the second option is preferable due to the absence of the need for picking). Early varieties can be sown for seedlings in early April, but only if there are heated greenhouses.
When planting in boxes and greenhouses, the seeds are arranged in rows with an interval of at least 5 cm. The distance between the leek seeds in the row should be 2 cm. Before seedlings appear, it is recommended to irrigate daily (within reasonable limits, preventing stagnation of water). At the age of 4 weeks, leek seedlings are dived into pots with a diameter of up to 5 cm. It is also important to observe the temperature regime, avoiding strong heating of air and soil. Recommended temperature during the day - up to 20 degrees, at night - no more than 14 degrees. Until the end of April, seedlings need additional illumination with phytolamps.
Landing with the seedling method of cultivation should coincide in timing with the final establishment of heat. In the middle lane this is the last decade of May, in Siberia - the first decade of June.
For a guaranteed harvest, it is important not only to grow healthy seedlings, but also to prepare a garden for its further growth. To do this, it is enough to observe a few rules:
- The soil on the bed should be neutral. To do this, lime or dolomite is added to acidic soil in the fall, and a little peat to alkaline soil.
- To increase fertility and physical characteristics, the bed is seasoned with compost or rotted manure (6-8 kg per square meter).
- Potato, bean or pumpkin crops should be the precursors of leeks.
To improve the survival rate of seedlings, the roots of pearl onions are cut by a third, after which they are dipped in clay mash. The landing depth should be at least 10 cm.
Advice! It is better to plant leek in separate holes up to 15 cm deep. After placing seedlings in them, a kind of ring is formed around the plants, deepened with respect to the plane of the bed. This will protect the seedlings from adverse conditions, as well as facilitate the flow of water and nutrient solutions directly under the roots of plants.
How to plant leek
Leek care consists of a set of classic agronomic techniques:
- Watering - regular (at least 3 times a week) and plentiful (to wet the soil to a depth of 7-10 cm). Especially good leek responds to watering in the first half of the growing season.
- Top dressing which are combined with watering once every 2-3 weeks. To supply nutrients, organics familiar to all summer residents are enough - an infusion of chicken manure or mullein diluted with water in a ratio of 1 to 20 or 1 to 8, respectively.
- Hilling, which should be carried out at least 4 times per season, and ideally - once every 2 weeks. This will allow you to get a more powerful white leg. It is recommended to carry out an earthing up immediately after watering or several hours after it.
The rest of the care consists of timely weeding and mulching of row-spacing with well-rotted manure or peat.
When cultivating plantings with leeks, summer residents may encounter several problems:
- viral or fungal diseases
- with the invasion of pests.
Most often, onion flies terrorize plantings. You can get rid of them by adding red ground pepper and mustard to the mulch. Helps to get rid of the pest and planted carrots in the rows of onions.
In case of defeat of the plantings by leech by powdery mildew and rust, it is recommended to remove damaged plants from the beds as soon as possible, and treat the vacant holes with copper chloroxide and Fitosporin.
Leek is used in recipes of many cuisines of the world. It is used for preparing soups, sauces, appetizers and salads, as well as in the filling for pies, casseroles and julienne. Here are just a few of the most popular and easiest leek recipes.
To prepare this not quite ordinary dish you will need:
- for the base - 0.5 kg of peeled and boiled potatoes, a quarter packet of butter, 1 egg;
- for the filling - 3/4 cup sour cream and grated cheese, 30 g butter, 2 large stalks of leeks, 2 eggs, some spices (salt, mashed nutmeg, ground sweet pepper or paprika);
- vegetable oil for the mold.
Turn the components for the base into lush mashed potatoes and put in a mold with a layer of at least 1 cm, closing the bottom and sides of the pan. Grease the resulting base with an egg and put in the oven for a quarter of an hour at 200 degrees.
At this time, fry the leek in butter until light soft. Mix the remaining components in a bowl and beat lightly. Put the filling on a browned base and pour over the cheese and sour cream sauce. Cook the casserole for half an hour at a temperature of no more than 180 degrees.
Chicken Meatball and Cheese Soup
To prepare 5 servings of soup you will need:
- litere of water,
- 3 medium potatoes,
- leek greens
- medium-sized carrots,
- soft cheese (preferably creamy),
- minced chicken breasts,
- some olive oil.
In oil, passassed grated carrots, onions and minced meat, formed in the form of small balls. Upon reaching their readiness to salt and pepper the contents of the pan. Cut cheese and potatoes into small cubes. Put the potatoes in the boiled water, after 5 minutes add the passivation with meatballs, and then cheese cubes. Gently stir the soup until the cheese is completely melted. Remove soup from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
Growing leeks is sometimes difficult, especially in the northern latitudes. However, all difficulties are more than paid for by its health benefits and excellent taste. Every summer clerk can try to grow this vegetable on the site. The main thing is to observe agricultural technology as accurately as possible and respond in time to signs of the presence of diseases and pests on the beds.