Starting leek indoors

I do not usually grow leek myself, just regular onions, but this year I started a pot of leek for a friend. Do you trim it the same as you trim onions once a week until they transplanted?

That’s what I did last winter with my seed starts. They are even leggier than onions.


Yes, grow them like onions,but when you plant them outside, plant them quite deep, in a bit of a trench is best. Then mound the soil up against them as they grow. That way they will get a nice long white lower stem.


Thanks, will tell my friend to do that) She is complete newbie, so I will plant for her, but she will be taken care of them.

I have some leeks that I planted in Nov.This is not indoors but they are cool weather crop I’ve read. I guess I should have thinned them out more? and trimming, is that like chives?
Thanks for the thread! I don’t know if I’m growing these right
This is what they looked like on Dec 31


What I know about any onions, that is when started from seeds they need to be thinned to 1 inch distance between the plants in their temporary containers. I think it is true for leek as well. Onions seedlings you also can replant - if they grow as clump, like on you picture, you can dig the whole clump up, separate and replant on proper distance. If this box is their final destination, then you sure need to thin them. For onions distance between plants is 4-6 inches. I would say 4 will be OK for leeks, but I do not have real experience with them.

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I grew leeks last season as well as onion from seeds. Planted them in about this time. When they had 1-2 leaves I replanted them in larger containers and separated them as much as I could. In march they stayed outside in the simple hoophouse. I planted them in the beginning of April in their permanent place, separated. There were freezes after that and they were hard frozen, but it did not seem to bother them. When I had no patience I planted them in clamps and then in summer I just pulled one onion from the clamp, leaving the others to grow more. In the autumn I put some big plants in refrigerator and they stayed there as good as fresh. Several plants stayed outside and there were many days below freezing. One night we had -15F and no snow for protection. On Christmas I brought those leeks inside and surprisingly they were not so bad. The outer leaves were frozen but the inner core was fine. I still have a couple of them left in my refrigerator, and they are trying to grow roots there. All in all I liked the leeks: they are very tough plants, they required very little attention in summer and they keep well in winter.


Nice info, Maria, and how do you use them? I mainly not growing them because have no usage for them. We use onions and garlic - both greens and bulbs. I guess I can use leeks instead of onion greens, are they any better? Is there any specific usage for them?

I’ll sow seed in January in medium sized pots that I can dump out in March and untangle the roots (very easy) to plant out. 3 bulbing varieties here. One variety to can up with relishes and 2 keepers.

Even so we run out of onions so I’ll grow ‘winter onions’ which don’t bulb - i.e. not dependent on day length, and I use them just like onions. These get planted in July and would be leeks and evergreen bunching. I just harvested some and put them in a corned beef stew and the green leaves give nice color and flavor which I liked better than the onions, actually.


I cook with them like I would with onions. In simmer when regular onions are still growing I pull leeks chop them and add to the dishes, soups. Their leaves look tough, but they get quite tender under the heat. I usually add them at the very end of cooking, this way they keep their green color nicely. I do not fry them like the regular onions, because they loose their color and flavor.

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@JustAnne4, thanks for sharing, I am doing the same, but my boxes are bigger, to save indoor space.

I usually start them at the end of December, but this year it is mid January - I was out of country for three weeks.
@Antmary, looks like I do not grow leeks because we do not like cooked onion greens. We only use them fresh in salads or as addition to soups, but never cooked.


Very very neat!
The several containers are to separate varieties. Also they are easier to dump and separate in an empty bowl when planting out.

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I don’t start leeks anymore- I buy seedlings, and they are always crowded and tiny. I wonder how they will ever grow into decent sized plants. But they do, and I love 'em, and this is how i do it.

I don’t trim them, but plant them as soon as I can after buying them. I dedicate most of a 4 foot square bed to them, digging deep v-shaped trenches about a foot apart. I pile the soil from the trenches between the trenches, and then make a a hole several inches deep in the trench, hoping that the roots of the leek will not have to curl up at the bottom of the hole. Only the green part of the leek is exposed above the rim of the hole. Then I set the leek in the hole, and move about six inches down the trench for the next hole. When I’m out of trench I sprinkle gently to wash soil into the holes. Leeks (and all allium sp. seem to like lots of space and will not do as well when crowded.

As the leeks grow I wash or rake soil in to the trench to keep as much of the leek covered as possible.

If the soil is nice and rich in organic matter and other factors are good. they should size up nicely, and give you quite a good amount of white.

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Just a couple of points I didn’t see anyone touch on yet:

I generally start onions and leeks inside around Feb 1. Grow in small pots for a few weeks then xplant to the GH with 2" spacing until April or so, and they are pencil thickness. Then xplant outside at 8" spacing or so. I generally trim back the tops some at xplant time to keep them in balance with the roots which were partially removed by the xplant digging.

Keep in mind the edible part of leeks is the white part. You really can’t eat the dark green leaves, too tough. So you need to bury the stem as it grows and/or deeply mulch so that there is a long stem which is white to be eaten.

Once the leeks are established outside they are pretty tough. They can go thru frosts and freezes easily. If you are in a milder climate, just mulch them in the garden to keep the soil from freezing and you can dig them as you need over the winter.

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Is it late to be starting onions?

Depends on your zone, I guess. I usually start them in the end of December and harvest in the end of July. If I plant it a month later, it will be end of August - still enough time to harvest. I am in zone 5.

Hey Rob,
What she said :slight_smile:
I’d contact your local extension office or veggie gardener. I’m in z7b-8 and I sow in Jan and reap in late June-early July. Onions that bulb are day-length dependent and here I need to grow ‘intermediate’ day length varieties but you can grow long day onions. Just give it a go and see what you get so you can say, ‘next year will be better’, LOL.

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Thanks. If anything they might not be as big as i’d like, but we’ll see. I’ll get them going asap.

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Warmwax, I started onions in mid-March last year, and they did fine, except for the rabbits getting a lot of them until I got them protected better. (near St. Paul).

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