This week is National Gardening Week, and the theme for 2019 is Edible Britain – a chance for gardeners across the country to show their love of home-grown produce.
Gardening advice at this time of year focuses on the things that need doing in the kitchen garden – it’s a busy time of year, with seeds to sow, prick out, pot on and plant out, weeding and watering and protecting plants from weather and pests.
But I thought I would focus on the rewards. We will never be self-sufficient, but our spring garden is providing us with food, and whether it’s salad, or stir fries, or just a bunch of herbs to liven things up, there’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you eat something you’ve grown!
Leeks are great, because you can eat these hardy winter vegetables at any stage. If you want baby leeks, harvest baby leeks. The rest will bulk up and can stay in the ground until they’re needed. They will try and flower in the spring, and they’re best harvested before that happens. I pulled up the last of ours to make way for potatoes.
I love the silkiness of leeks, and their mild onion flavour. They’re great in pasta dishes and risottos, and pair well with bacon and cheese. I’ve never been the biggest fan of a classic leek and potato soup (you need a really good stock for it to have any flavour), but you can use leeks in pretty much any recipe that calls for an onion.
This year I’ve sown Carentan 3, which I hope will be just as good. I’ll plant those out in due course (the timing depends a bit on when space becomes available).
Leeks are generally sown (in the UK) in March and April, but you can still sow some now if you’re quick, or you’ll be able to find leek seedlings in the garden centre, for planting out in June (or thereabouts).