Leek Scape Facts:

1) Leeks are not poisonous, but they can cause nausea if eaten in large quantities.

They are considered safe to consume in small amounts.

2) Leeks produce a white, odorless liquid which contains vitamins A and C along with other nutrients.

It is used as a food additive and it helps prevent scurvy among other things.

3) Leeks contain alkaloids (natural chemicals that act like tranquilizers).

These alkaloids can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

4) Leeks contain compounds called thiocyanates which are toxic to humans.

Eating enough of them can lead to stomach pain, diarrhea and even death.

5) There is no cure for leek poisoning because there isn’t any poison in the plant itself.

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You need to get rid of all traces of the plants before you will be able to eat it again without problems.

6) Leeks are edible only during their first year of growth.

After that, they become bitter and must be discarded.

7) Leeks grow best in cool climates.

They prefer moist soil conditions and do well in sandy or clay soils. However, they can survive dry periods as long as they receive some moisture from the air every once in awhile.

How To Collect Seeds Of Leek?

The following text is taken from an article written by David Johnson, Extension Specialist, Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

Harvesting and Storing Leek Seed

Leek seeds can be collected in several ways. The simplest is to let the flowers mature and then allow them to dry out on the plant. When they are dry, the seed will shake or blow out of the dried pod. The best method is to harvest the plants when the lower portion of the stalk has begun to turn yellow and dry. Cut off the stalks at ground level and place them in a dry, well-ventilated area with adequate spacing for air circulation.

The dried stalk will continue to turn yellow until it becomes straw-colored. The seed head will begin to shrink and curl as the seeds mature. When the stem has shrunk and the seeds begin to rattle, it is ready to be harvested. Seeds can be stored for several years if kept in a cool, dry, dark place in sealed containers such as jars or plastic zipper bags.

Many people prefer to grow leeks in the spring and allow them to remain in the ground over winter and be harvested as needed in the spring and early summer. These plants re-seed themselves each year. You can leave them in the ground or cut them up and use them in the kitchen, then prepare a small area in your garden and allow them to naturally reseed themselves each year.

In the following text we expand a bit more on leek flower information.

Leek Blossom Information:

The following information is taken from an article written by David Johnson, Extension Specialist, Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

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Why Some Leek Types Flower And Some Don’t

The problems that people encounter with leeks flowering can usually be traced to the type of fertilizer used, the soil pH and the amount of sunlight the plants receive.

Most of the trouble with leek flowering is due to the high phosphorous (P) levels in the fertilizer. The plants are fussed over and given high levels of fertilizer, which causes the plant to put more energy into developing a flower stalk than a bulb. When this happens, the plant puts all its energy into making a flower stalk with several flowers instead of growing a large bulb. This results in a long stem with several small flowers topped by a bulb that is much smaller than it would have been had the plant not been fertilized.

Many types of fertilizer contain three main nutrients — nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). These are represented as a number such as 10-10-10 which means it contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorous and 10% potassium. If you look at a bag of fertilizer, you will see several numbers in this form such as 5-10-5, 20-20-20, etc. These numbers indicate the percentage of each nutrient in that particular fertilizer.

The trick is to use a fertilizer that has little or no phosphorous in it, so the plants do not substitute phosphorous for the nitrogen. There are several types of numbers that indicate how much of each nutrient is in a particular bag of fertilizer. Try to use a fertilizer that has 3 numbers such as 5-5-5 (which means 5% nitrogen, 5% phosphorous and 5% potassium), or something very close to that. Fertilizer with 2 numbers such as 10-10 or 20-0 are going to have more phosphorous in it, and the last number will be higher than you want. Fertilizers that have 4 numbers such as 12-12-12 or 30-0-0 are going to be worse in that the last number is going to be higher.

So, if you use a fertilizer with three numbers such as 15-15-15, you will need to add soil sulfur or wood ash (optional) to reduce the phosphorous content by half. Since most types of soil have adequate amounts of nitrogen, you need not add any additional nitrogen.

Sulfur or ash reduces the phosphorous content of the soil. One pound of sulfur will lower the 5-5-5 level by 100 points or 16 2/3%. One pound of sulfur will lower the 10-10-10 level by 67 points or 15%. See the following table for a few examples:

Lowering The Phosphorous Level In Fertilizer by Adding Sulfur

Fertilizer Amount Used in lbs. 5-5-5 10-10-10 20-20-20 100 Points 16.67% 15% 12.5% 67 Points 15% 12.50% 10%

Once you have added the sulfur or ash, you should mix it into the soil and then re-test the soil to be sure you have the desired level of phosphorous.

The next step is to have your soil tested by a county agent or a private testing lab. The testing labs can be found in the Yellow Pages of the phone book. The cost of having your soil tested will vary, but it should not be more than $20.00 – $30.00.

Soil testing labs need to have a sample from the garden where you plan to grow your leeks in order to get accurate results. They will send you a small paper package with a unique number printed on it. In this package is a small bag; you fill the bag with about an ounce of soil from your garden. Then you put the bag into a larger plastic bag and seal it. (This is to keep the soil from leaking out of the bag.) Then put the sealed plastic bag into a padded envelope and send it, with the lab slip, to the lab. They will then analyze your soil and send you back a report stating what levels of nutrients are in your soil.

You should send for the testing kit from your county agent, or directly from the testing lab. The following is the information for the testing lab in California:

How To Stop Leeks From Bolting And Going To Seed on igrowplants.net

Soil Testing Lab

5750 Greenfield Ave. #102B

Hayward, CA 94545-5964

(510) 725-3933

You can also call your local county office and they should be able to tell you who does the soil testing in your area.

If you are unable to get your soil tested, you can get close by using the fertilizer guide found in this FAQ.

After you receive the results of the soil test from the testing lab, you can then see what levels of nutrients are in the soil. For a listing of these, see below.

The final step is to mix in the right amount of fertilizer for your soil. You should buy a container of the proper type and delivery system of fertilizer for your leeks. Check the labels on the bags or containers to see what the numbers are for the ones you have chosen.

A NOTE ABOUT FERTILIZER: Do not over fertilize! Fertilizers are chemical compounds which can be very strong. Fertilizers are rated on the following three numbers: (first two numbers reflect the main elements: i.e. 5-5-5, and the third number is the amount of phosphate in the mix.)

First number = Amount of nitrogen available in bag or container.

Second number = Amount of actual phosphate in bag or container.

Third number = Amount of potash in bag or container.

Sources & references used in this article:

Effects of temperature and daylength on bolting of leek (Allium porrum L.) by HJ Wiebe – Scientia horticulturae, 1994 – Elsevier

Seed to seed: Seed saving and growing techniques for vegetable gardeners by S Ashworth – 2002 – books.google.com

Onions, leeks, and garlic: a handbook for gardeners by P Waddington – 2008 – Random House

Male gametogenesis and sterility in garlic (Allium sativum L.): barriers on the way to fertilization and seed production by M Coonse – 1995 – books.google.com

Growth, development and bolting of early leeks in the UK by ES Mayer, K Winiarczyk, L Błaszczyk, A Kosmala… – Planta, 2013 – Springer

Leek breeding: a review by DCE Wurr, JR Fellows, AJ Hambidge… – The Journal of …, 1999 – Taylor & Francis

Bateson’s experiments on bolting in sugar beet and mangolds by L Currah – Journal of horticultural science, 1986 – Taylor & Francis

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