Leek and potato soup

Leek and potato soup

What you will need:

  • Leek seeds (choose a few varieties that will be ready to harvest at different times).
  • Seed potatoes (a few varieties).
  • 2x 60L bags of compost.
  • 1x cane or large stick.
  • 1x bag of horticultural sand (if heavy clay soil)
  • 5/6 x egg cartons

Leeks

Prepare your bed in the Winter by adding lots of compost. Digging this into the soil will give you a head start in the Spring.  Leeks do not like growing in heavy clay soils so if your soil is heavy (sticky), make sure you add some horticultural sand to your planting bed along with the compost.

Between March and April sow the seed directly into the soil where you want your leeks to grow. Choose a few varieties, as some will be ready to harvest quicker than others, this way you will have lots of leeks over a longer period.

Using a cane or stick make a shallow and straight groove in the soil about 1cm deep, sow your Leek seeds along the trench thinly, cover with soil, water then label.  Do a few rows about 30cm apart. When the seedlings have a few leaves on, usually after about 5 weeks, *thin out your seedlings to around 15cm apart trying to leave the strongest ones in.

Keep your leeks well watered during the Summer months. A good thick mulch of compost around the seedlings will help lock moisture into the soil. As your leeks are growing, you can *earth up soil around the plant, this will exclude the light and give you a longer whiter stem.

The time of harvesting depends on what variety you have grown (see packet). Carefully lift with a fork when the plants seem large enough, making sure not to disturb any neighbouring crops. You can leave leeks in the ground until you are ready to use them and they can be stored for up to two weeks after they have been lifted.

Potatoes

There are many different varieties of potatoes available and they are classified into 3 different groups. First early, second early and maincrop varieties. Plant early crops in late March for lifting in July, or grow second earlies for harvest in August. Main crop varieties can be planted in April for harvesting in September. For small spaces stick with first early and second early.

In late February place your seed potatoes in half an egg box, find a sunny windowsill that is frost free and leave until several 1cm shoots appear.

In Spring fork over your bed adding compost and dig trenches around 15cm deep in straight lines and 60cm apart. Place your shooting seed potatoes (shoots facing up) along the trench at 45cm intervals. Cover the potatoes with a mound of soil that is about 5cm above the original soil level *earthing up as the green foliage appears. Add more soil to the mound, do this at intervals throughout the Summer. You should end up with a soil mound of 15cm around each plant.

Your potatoes should be ready for lifting from June to September depending on the varieties you choose. Earlies can be lifted and eaten as soon as they are ready. A good indication of when your potatoes are ready are the flowers opening on the plant. When this happens they are ready to lift out from the ground, carefully.