Save Leek Seeds

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How to Save Leek Seeds - If you grow them (and you should!), its so easy to save leek seeds so you don't have to buy them anymore!  www.homesteadlady.comHow to save leek seeds?!  Pfft – leeks are alliums, like onions.  All alliums want to do, it seems, is go to seed.  Believe me, this is one is an simplevseed save and you can easily handle it.  affiliate disclaimer for top

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Grow Leeks to Save Leek Seeds 

Before you can save leek seed, you need to grow leeks – or know someone who is growing them.  You may have heard that leeks are difficult to grow but I say, if you can grow a potato, you can grow a leek.  Follow this link to learn more and grow leeks.  Learning and Yearning clarifies for us that a wild leek is not the same thing as a garden leek.How to save leek seeds l A typical allium family (leeks and onions) flower head l Homestead Lady (.com)

Save Leek Seeds

As your leek harvest matures, you’ll want to select three to five of the best looking leek stalks to all to go to seed.  That means, you want to look for the healthiest and fattest leeks you have and let them grow a flower stalk.  If you’ve ever seen any member of the allium family flowering, you’ll recognize a leek bloom immediately. 

That flower stalk will be pollinated by insects and eventually turn into a flower head full of seeds.  I like allium blooms and think they’re lovely – we actually grow a bedding version in the children’s flower garden.  The leek seeds can be allowed to dry right on the stalk but you have to watch the flower head carefully so that the seed (which looks a bit like a black pyramid) doesn’t drop to the ground before you have a chance to harvest it. 

One way to prevent losing your seed to the ground is to rubber band a lunch sized paper bag over the flower head.  This secures it to the stalk, ensuring that your seed will fall inside your bag while it dries on the plant.  If you’d like, you can also cut the stalks and bring them inside when you notice the seeds are dark and the flowers have faded.  Invert your cut stalks and place them, head first, into a paper bag to hang them in a well ventilated place to finish drying. 

Regardless of where you do it, once your seed is dry, you need to separate out the chaff from your seed.  Chaff is all the botanical mess that’s left behind as you separate seed from pods and flowers and stems.  Fortunately, with leeks, the seed is easy to see but there is a lot of loose chaff that comes off the seed head.  I usually take each seed head one by one and rub them between my hands over a large bowl.  Parts fall off and I have to keep rubbing them to loosen all that stems and seed casing so the seed can pop out. 

Then, I either blow lightly to remove the chaff or you can set a soft fan to blow on your bowl of seed/plant matter.  Be patient, keep stirring the contents of your bowl and you’ll eventually get quite a bit of chaff out.  I never get it all because I’m just not that detail oriented but if you want to, keep going until all the stems and loose material are blown out.  Actually, you’ll need to use seed sifting screens if you want to get it “all”.  More power to you.

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Store Clean Leek Seed

Store your cleaned leek seed in labeled paper envelopes (I use coin envelopes a lot), in a cool, dark place and your seed should last one to two years.  I usually just replant another batch of leek seeds right away for the fall garden to overwinter or plant early, early the next spring indoors to put out for in the garden once the ground is workable.  If you do overwinter, you may want to cover your leeks with something to insulate them during the coldest parts months.  I’m in zone 5/6 and my leeks have overwintered with nothing and with a cover and seem to do equally well.  One winter we lost some when it dipped crazy cold but I always plant more in my seed starting trays in February anyway.  If you plant them each spring, come late summer, you’ll have tasty leeks all ready to harvest again!

How to Save Leek Seeds - Your favorite allium - the mighty leek - is a very easy seed save!  www.homesteadlady.com How to use Leeks

Ah, recipes!  Here are some links to leek-using recipes – you’re gonna love these!  Little Big Harvest and Red and Honey both have great recipes for classic leek and potato soup.  Well Fed Family has a recipe for sautéed squash with leeks.  Dr. Eric Z has a lovely quiche recipe with leeks. 

To get you started on your seed saving adventure, you may want these fine products:

This post shared at Old fashioned Friday, WildCrafting Wednesday

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Comments

Save Leek Seeds — 6 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this detailed post. I had no idea leeks were so gorgeous when left to flower. I hope to grow leeks and save the seeds starting next year!

  2. I had 2 Leeks which came third place in a local competition. Replanted them. One died, however the other is now some 4 feet high and ready to flower. Your article is great! In a Greenhouse when is the best time to plant for next year’s competition. I live in the NE England. Any tips for growing….comp standard leeks. Girth, length of white trunk etc

    • Congrats on your award winning leeks!

      Typically you plant leeks 8-10 weeks before the last frost in your area. Depending on how well your greenhouse is insulated, you should be able to do that in there, but you’ll need to gauge the temperature yourself. Leeks do best germinating in cool temps (around 65 degrees) but you don’t want a severe dip in temps to stunt their growth. If you’re unsure, you can always start your leeks inside and then transplant them to the greenhouse as early spring starts to warm it. I’m not sure if your greenhouse is one you use only for starting plants, or if you’re talking about something more like a grow tunnel where you actually raise early spring crops, protected from frosts. Leeks are pretty hardy but they do need some warmth (not frozen ground and consistently frosty air) to develop.

      If you want to grow them for competition, I suggest contacting your local extension agent and asking about standards for local fairs. Or, if the competition you mention is not a fair, contact the organizer directly. Every place has their own measuring stick, so to speak. We’ve used all kinds of things to keep long, white trunks with as little dirt as possible – our favorite was paper towel tubes placed over the stems to blanche them. We don’t use paper towels anymore so I need to come up with something similar. Toilet paper tubes worked, too, but we had a hard time keeping them connected and wet weather contorted their shape.

      I actually prefer thinner leeks but those American Flags can get really fat. Hey, if its a leek, I’ll eat it – I love them!

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