Leek, also known as Allium porrum in scientific terms, is a vegetable that produces a long cylinder of bundled leaf sheaths. It is widely known for centuries for its exceptional properties and rich flavor.
Generally, there are two leek types; summer and overwintering leeks. While summer leeks are smaller, overwintering leeks are intensely flavored.
With its onion-like taste, leeks are used in salads as a prime ingredient; also, it is boiled, fried, and sometimes tied with other herbs to form a bouquet garni – to be used to prepare soups, stews, stock, and casseroles. Leeks usually grow in the same regions where onions grow, and it also has some superb pharmaceutical properties to offer. Here they are:
A rich and fat-free source of fiber, vitamin A, C, and K. Besides, it is an iron and manganese abundant food source. It helps your red blood cells, and it controls your brain and nerve functions. Wow! Isn’t that wonderful?
Let’s go deeper into the wonders of this flavorful vegetable and see what the leek plant is?
|Botanical Name||Allium Porrum|
|Plant Type||A Perennial / Biennial|
|Size (Full Grown)||12 To 18 Inches (About 30 To 46 cm) Tall|
|Sun Exposure||Full Sun, But Grows In Partial Shade Too|
|Soil Type||Nutritious And Well-draining Soil|
|Soil pH||From 6.0 To 7.0|
|Flower Color||Purple And White Flowers|
|U.S. Hardiness Zones||8, 9, 10, And 11|
|Native Area||Eastern Mediterranean And Middle East|
Different Leek Varieties
- Pot Leek
- Oarsman F1
- Blue Solaise
- Giant Winter
- Below Zero F1
- Prizetaker / Lyon
- Mammoth Blanch
Although there are hundreds of more varieties, I don’t want to bombard you with loads of boring facts so let’s talk about where the plant emerged from.
Origins And The Long History Of The Leek Plant!
Leek is an ancient plant and has been around us for over 4000 years. Although it seems to be originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East, its origin is not very clearly known.
For those of you who have visited Egypt, they may have seen dried specimens from archaeological sites and cravings and drawings, indicating that the plant has been a part of the Egyptian diet for a long time.
Leek has been cultivated in Western Europe since the middle ages and gradually came to North America with early settlers from Europe.
Raw leeks have not only been the favorite veggie for many emperors but have also been considered superior to onions and garlic in ancient Rome.
Confused Between Leeks And Scallions? – Well, Here’s The Answer!
Although leek and scallion belong to the same onion species, they have striking differences! Leeks have a different taste and have a different size than scallions – they are bigger and have a sweeter flavor. Additionally, they carry a mild onion-like taste and a slight garlicky taste as well. But the good part is that if you don’t like the garlic taste, you can mellow it out by cooking it.
Few Tips That Help You Grow The Best Leeks In The Neighborhood
To allow the development of the best leeks, you’ll have to research more about the conditions required for best growth. For example, let’s consider the most important ones:
The ideal temperatures for leek are somewhere between 55°F (about 13°C) 75°F (about 24°C). So, it is clear that they grow best in cool to moderate climates. Since bolting (flowering) comes in the first spring after planting, you should avoid late summer and early fall plantings.
Optimal Soil Type
The best soil type for the plant is acidic, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0, although they will also tolerate more alkaline soils. Since you’ll be growing leeks for their leaves, you will need rich soil with high amounts of organic matter.
To fulfill their huge desire for nitrogen, you could provide it a supplemental feeding of liquid fish emulsion or other fertilizer about three weeks after planting. Poultry manure is an excellent nitrogen booster, and you can add it to get the best results. The best part is that they also sell poultry manure as pellets, which means that fertilizing couldn’t get any easier than that.
Leeks are extremely easy to take care of, and these plants need very little attention. They only need about an inch (approximately 2,5 cm) of water either through irrigation or rain every week. But the instruction that I just mentioned only applies once the plant has established itself. Before that, give the plant as much water as it needs.
How To Grow Leek In Your Very Own Garden?
I’m pretty sure that by now, many of you want to know how to grow leeks at home. Here are some straightforward steps:
- Put potting soil into the pots and tenderly tamp down the potting soil.
- Sow the seeds about an inch (about 2,5 cm) apart from each other in pots.
- Cover them with a thin layer of soil.
- Provide optimum external conditions, including watering, fertilizing, and the right temperature.
- Once the plant is 6 to 8 inches (about 15 to 20 cm) tall, transplant it outside, but before that, remember to give them some “intolerance therapy.”
What I mean is that you should adapt them to outdoor conditions by keeping them outside longer than inside before actually transplanting them. Please do this for a couple of weeks, and transplant them outdoors.
And, after 25 to 40 weeks, you’ll have leek to enhance the beauty of your lawn and, most importantly, the taste of your dishes.
Three Impressive Benefits Leeks Have That Everone Needs To Know!
Leeks are a super healthy veggie and provide us with a plethora of different nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K. Vitamins that all help prevent the blood from clotting.
There’s good news for those suffering from restless legs syndrome (RLS) because leeks carry iron, which aids in producing red blood cells, thus curing the RLS condition.
The plant also contains manganese, which regulates brain and nerve function, and dietary fibers, which will prevent constipation.
Want To Lose Weight?
At 31 calories per 100 grams when cooked, this vegetable has meager calories per part. What’s more, leeks are a good source of water and fiber, which may stop hunger, promote satiety, and naturally decrease your appetite. Isn’t that just wonderful, losing weight with half the struggle!
How To Choose The Best Leek At The Grocery Store?
One of the best ways to distinguish healthy leek is to check their leaves. The leaves shouldn’t have discolored outer leaves or yellow or withered tops. Ideally, the plant will also have a white stem and be crisp. To achieve the most luscious leeks, you need to choose the medium-sized ones since they carry more flavor than the larger ones.
Is It Safe To Eat / Consume Leek?
As we’ve already discussed, you can eat leek when it’s raw, saute it, add it to soups and pies or even slice it into your salads. The best thing about this fantastic veggie is that it contains a lot of dietary fiber and vitamins A, C, and K.
But like everything in this world, all plants aren’t suitable for everyone. Here we have included the information if you should know something specific about this plant if you have a common medical problem or developing a new life inside you. You can also figure out if the plant is pet-friendly.
Before we get into the medical conditions, I want to remind you that people who suffer from urinary stones might face problems with leek. The reason for this is because the plant contains a lot of oxalic acids. So, talk with your doctor before eating them if you have a medical condition like this.
Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
As we have already discussed many times, leek is rich in vitamins, and that’s a good thing for the expecting mother and the baby in that mother’s belly. Did you know that many expectant mothers suffer from anemia?
Anemia, a condition where a person’s body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells, isn’t a good thing for the mother and especially not good for the baby in the tummy. Guess what? Leek is rich in iron, which is good because it helps you eliminate that nasty condition. But, before you do anything, I recommend you to talk with your doctor before believing our advice.
From babies six-month-old to the elderly, the plant is an excellent addition to one’s diet. But if you are going to feed raw leek for your baby, give them the white part because it’s easier to digest and, best of all, has a softer taste.
People With Allergies
As we already know, the plant belongs to the same family as onion, garlic, and chives. So, as you might expect, if you have already eaten the plants that I mentioned before, you should be okay with eating leek.
People With Diabetes
The plant is a great addition to the diet of people who have diabetes since they contain plenty of antioxidants. So, yes, leek is suitable and, like all vegetables, even recommended for people who have diabetes.
As is the case with garlic, chives, and onion that belong to the same family as leek, you shouldn’t ever give it to your dogs and cats. For example, a dog might have symptoms like appetite loss, vomiting, or/and yellowing of the eyes if they have eaten leek.
There are also many other symptoms; the size of your dog and the number of leeks consumed also show the severity of the symptoms. So, in a nutshell, please don’t give it to your pets.