Allium Porrum The leek is not so fully appreciated in the southern parts of England as it is in the North, and in Scotland and Wales. It is a fine vegetable where it is well understood, and when stewed in gravy there is

nothing of its class that can surpass it in flavour and wholesomeness. One reason of its fame in Scotland and the colder parts of Wales is its exceeding hardiness. The severest winters do not harm the plant, and it may remain in the open ground until wanted, occasioning no trouble for storage. Times of Sowing.--To obtain large handsome specimens of the finest quality a start must be made in January or early February, and this early sowing is imperative for the production of Leeks for exhibition, as the roots must be given a longer season of growth than is generally allowed for ordinary crops. It is usual to sow in pans or boxes of moistened soil, placed in a temperature of about 55 deg.. The seeds need only a very light covering of fine soil. When the seedlings are about two inches high transfer to shallow boxes of rich soil, spacing them three inches apart each way, or the finest may be placed in pots of the 32-size, taking care not to break the one slender root on which the plant depends at this stage. Grow on in the same temperature until mid-March, when they may be transferred to a cold frame to undergo progressive hardening in readiness for planting out at a favourable opportunity in April. There may be three sowings of Leek made in the open ground in February, March, and April, to insure a succession, and also to make good any failures. But for most gardens one sowing about the middle of March will be sufficient. From this sowing it will be an easy matter to secure an early supply, a main crop, and a late crop, for they may be transplanted from the seed-bed at a very early stage, and successive thinnings will make several plantations; and finally, as many can be left in the seed-bed to mature as will form a proper plantation. General Cultivation.--The Leek will grow in any soil, and when no thicker than the finger is useful; indeed, in many places where the soil is poor and the climate cold it rarely grows larger, but is, nevertheless, greatly valued. A rich dry soil suits the plant well, and when liberally grown it attains to a great size, and is very attractive, with its silvery root and brilliant green top. The economical course of management consists in thinning and planting as opportunities occur, beginning as soon as the plants are six inches high, and putting them in well-prepared ground, which should be thoroughly watered previously, unless already softened by rain. The distance for planting must depend upon the nature of the soil and the requirements of the cultivator. For an average crop, eighteen inches between the rows and six to nine inches between the plants is sufficient; but to grow large Leeks, they must be allowed a space of twelve to eighteen inches in the rows. In planting, first shorten the leaves a little (and very little), then drive down the dibber, and put the plant in as deep as the base of the leaves, and close in carefully without pressure. Water liberally, occasionally stir the ground between plants, and again cut off the tops of the leaves, when the roots will grow to a large size. If the ground is dangerously damp or pasty, make a bed for the crop with light rich soil, plant on the level and mould up as the growth advances. On light land, however, it is advisable to grow them in trenches, prepared as for Celery. The largest and whitest should not be left to battle with storms, but those left in the seed-bed will take no harm from winter weather, and will be useful when the grandees are eaten. The finest roots that remain when winter sets in may be taken up in good time and stored in dry sand, and will keep for at least a month. Any that remain over in spring can readily be turned to account. As the flower-stems rise nip them out; not one should be left. The result of this practice will be the formation on the roots of small roundish white bulbs, which make an excellent dish when stewed in gravy, and may be used for any purpose in cookery for which Onions or Shallots are employed. They are called 'Leek Bulbs,' and are obtainable only in early summer. Blanching.--The edible part of the root should be blanched, and this may be effected in various ways. Drain-pipes not less than two and a half inches in diameter, and from twelve to fifteen inches in length, answer well for large stems. Tubes of stiff brown paper are also very serviceable. Drawing up the earth to the stem as growth develops is a simple method of blanching, and the edible portion may easily be increased according to the amount of earthing-up given. Perfect blanching is of first importance when specimens are wanted for the exhibition table, and a commencement must be made as soon as the plants may be said to have thoroughly recovered from the effects of transplanting.


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