Leeks from Seeds

sconticut(6b)February 28, 2014

While I have been gardening for lots of years, I am starting leeks from seed for the first time. Answers to a few questions would be most helpful and greatly appreciated. Regardless of what the USDA says, we are in zone 6B. It hasn't been below zero for 20 years. Last frost is early in May.
1. Would early March be a good time to start seed indooors? I intend to sow in 6 inch pots with a good seed starting mix.
2. Should the seeds in pots be placed on heating pads to assist germination or do they germinate better without bottom heat?
3. What is the recommended time frame for transplanting to their permanent home in a raised bed?
4. I will initially grow under shop lights in an area that averages 65 degrees. Good environment??

I have done some reading online but value opinions of fellow forum members.

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I sow leeks from seed twice a year, once in mid-spring and then in summer for a fall crop. I let them grow crowded in 4-inch plastic pots kept outdoors for the most part. I might keep them indoors until the seeds sprout to provide steady temperatures, but then grow them outdoors in the sun. Leek seedlings are pretty tough, and willing to wait in containers until I'm ready to set them out.

I grow leeks mostly for fresh eating in season, so we don't raid the storage onions. Some get to be more than an inch in diameter, but most are smaller.

I let some of the fall plants stay in the garden through winter, just to see what they will do. In addition to producing flowers (good to eat), they will often grow offsets, or pups, that can be replanted and grown to size in the fall. Interesting plants!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 9:30AM
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Thank you for your posting, Barbara. I too like to keep leeks in the ground as long as I can. However, once our ground freezes up it would take explosive means to contunue the harvest.
Found your seed starting article in ME News and printed it out for reference; Good stuff. This year I am starting American Flag and Lancelot. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 5:29PM
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I start my leek seeds directly outside in the garden (no room left under the lights). Last year I planted American Flag on April 23rd, also in Zone 6b (SW VA), and harvested in early November before the ground froze. They started thickening up in September and many were 1"+ at harvest.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 9:04AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

It is easy to grow leeks from seed. It is the same way as growing bunching onions and chives.

I grow them crowded like chives and harvest greens like chives and they grow back, many time in a season. If you want to grow them for stem, have to start real early and space them, fill around the stem. You may or may not (depending on your growing conditions) get some decent stem. But I never could do that. So I had to over winter them.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 6:51AM
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Thanks for the responses. Leeks started March 1 are up an inch or two, removed from the heat mat and moved to a 65 degree area where they look contented. Our outside garden grounds are still frozen rock hard and nasty under the snow and so outdoor plantings of shallotts and peas will be delayed a bit this season. Would like to ses what my garlic looks like under that great mattress of straw and ice sitting on top of my garlic beds. But things are looking up. Today, I tracked mud onto the nice clean kitchen floor for the first time this year. Had a bit of thawing. Now that's a good sign. Dear Wife did not share my enthusiasm nor accept my excuse.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 8:57PM
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