American Flag Leek
Seed Count: Approx. 200 seeds
Days to Maturity: 120 Days
Description: The American Flag Leek is a classic, non-bulbing, heirloom variety that's perfect for home growers. These leeks are very tender, and mild, but flavorful, with a habit of sweetening up drastically during the fall/winter right before harvest. Use this delicious, versatile leek in salads, soups, stir-fries, or even stews. The American Flag Leek boasts heavy, tall, wide, creamy white stalks, resembling a flag pole, which is where its name originates from. They grow about 15-20 inches tall, with large mild tasting leaves that can be used in stock, or chopped up finely to use in soups. This variety was bred for overwintering, and is perfect for growing in the colder Northeastern states. Grows best in hardiness zones 3-9.
How To Grow
Sowing: Choose a location with loose, well-drained soil in full sun, where you did not plant members of the onion family the previous year. Work organic matter into your soil at least 6-8 inches deep, removing stones, then level and smooth the ground. Sow seeds ¼ inch deep, about 6 inches apart, in rows 18 inches apart, and keep the ground evenly moist. For baby leeks, sow seeds closely. Seeds will emerge in 14-21 days. Thin seedlings to 6 inches apart when they are 1-2 inches high.
Growing: Keep plants well watered during dry periods to promote rapid, uninterrupted growth. Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. Water early in the day, so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. When the plants are about the size of a pencil, wrap the base of the stalks with paper or mound up the soil to blanch them. Common diseases include damping off, downy mildew, and onion white rot. Companion plant with Celery and carrots. Mulch heavily during winter, for winter harvests.
Harvesting: For baby leeks, harvest when leeks are about finger sized. Harvest full sized leeks when the bases of the stalks reach ¾-2 inches in diameter, about 90 days after sowing. Sever the roots under the stalks and twist the stalks back and forth to loosen them and ease them out of the ground. Cut off remaining roots and all but 2 inches of the leaves. Harvest as many leeks as you will use and leave the rest to harvest later in winter. Leeks will keep for about a week in the fridge,and may be frozen after blanching. Leeks need to overwinter before producing seed. Allow the plants to flower and go to seed. Remove the seed heads when the visible seeds turn black. Spread the heads out in a dry place with good ventilation, and let them dry for several weeks. Thresh out the seeds and store them in a cool, dry place for up to 2 years.