Saturday, 6 February 2016

My Babington's leeks are very determined perennials

Earlier this week I checked the clumps of Babington's leeks that are dotted around the garden. This is their second year so I was hoping that some might be ready for eating. When I planted them out I wasn't sure how many would grow to maturity and I didn't leave that much space between them. They've all done very well and as a result are suffering a bit from overcrowding. No problem, I thought, just pull a few of them up. I thought they would come out easily, like garlic. Far from it.

Although I had originally planted them about an inch and a half below ground, I didn't realise that they have what are called contractile roots that enable them to bury themselves deeper into the earth. I pulled some of the stems expecting to extract the whole plant but the stems snapped off leaving the bulbs about 6 inches down. To get the whole thing out I had to remove all of the soil above and around the bulb. Even then they did not want to come out. I suspect they are going to be a bit like horseradish; once they are established you can't get rid of them.

I managed to harvest enough plants to yield about 200g of edible leaves, stems and bulbs. They are delicious chopped and stir fried, and taste like garlicky leeks. A worthwhile addition to the garden but, if you are going to try them yourself, be careful where you plant them. They will strongly resist attempts to move them if you later decide they are in the wrong place!

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