Preparing the Leek Bed and Planting

Donna Young @ 5 April 2010

Spontaneously and without a plan, rather like the way I bought leeks to plant, I decided to plant the leeks in this spot. This spot gets a little evening shade from a large oak tree. The plant tag that was included with the leeks said that leeks need 6 hours of sunlight. They will get 6 hours or more in this spot. I hope leeks do not prefer evening sun.

the site for the leek bed

Most of my garden looks like this right now. It is a mixture of freeze-proof weeds that grow in the dead of winter. They make a nice green carpet and protect the dirt from the elements. The major weed is chickweed. Chickweed is a cool weather weed with a shallow fibrous root system. The shallow root system along with it growing in the winter makes it acceptable to me as a winter garden cover. They seed themselves and they pull up easily.

In the picture below, I am rolling back the weeds and since most of the weeds are chickweed with their shallow fibrous roots, they come right up. The other weeds must be pulled.

rolling back the weeds

Once I uncovered an area around 3 feet wide and 5 feet long, I began digging the bed. I dug a shovel depth and tossed the hunks of dirt toward the dug areas. I could have used my tiller, but I did not want to or need to. The ground is soft and I can do a better job with the shovel, and it is a small bed.

digging the bed with a shovel

After I dug the entire bed, I broke apart all of the hunks of dirt and removed wild onion bulbs and other weedy items. When I was finished, I had a raised bed that was around 3 inches higher than it was when I started.

the dug bed and the finished bed

Now I stood there and thought-- Trenches, how will I make them in this tiny bed? I didn't know how close I could make the trenches without them falling in. I was hoping for 9 or 10 rows, but I could see after making the first trench that I could not have that many and I ended up with six rows. I made the trenches 6-inches deep.

the trenches dug

The garden book that I have said to cut half the tops off the leeks before planting, so that is what I did next -- I cut the tops with the shovel.

trimming the seedling tops

By now, I am getting a little tired. I removed the seedlings from the container and teased them apart with my fingers; the roots were meshed with each other. I tried not to break the roots and I didn't break many.

In this bed, I can plant seven leeks per row and I selected 42 leeks from the bunch. I grouped the leeks in sets of seven and laid each group of 7 next to each of the 6 planting rows. Forty-two leeks ought to be enough. That is 38 more than I buy each year, but at the store, leeks are expensive.

planting the leeks

The roots are long so I used my hand trowel to wedge a deep enough hole for the roots. And because I had dug the planting bed by hand, and broke up the clumps by hand, the soil was easy to manage. A larger factor in the soil being easy to manage is that is had the right amount of moisture in it.
-Rule of thumb- avoid, if possible, working the soil when it is either too wet or too dry.

planted leek bed

I gave each leek a little water and I called it a day. In a few days, I will gather mulch from the woods to place in the trenches. If I can, I will mulch the walls of the trenches because, soon, sprouted weeds will take over and it is tricky to weed steep trench walls.

Next: Garden Mulch for the Leeks

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