I am constantly singing the praises of the Leek, Allium Porrum, because I think it is a better friend to the kitchen gardener than he realises. When is a nicely cooked dish of Leeks other than appetising? When do the plants give trouble in cultivation, or become riddled by insects, or get damaged by inclement weather? So far as my personal knowledge goes, "Never" is the only answer.
Northerners make too much of Leek culture, Southerners too little. It is not necessary to gorge a trench with tons of dung to get serviceable Leeks. Exhibition sticks may call for much elaboration of treatment, ordinary ones do not.
The simplest of all methods of growing Leeks is to sow the seed in a drill in March, thin the seedlings directly they begin to crowd each other, drop the plants into holes made with a dibber 1 foot by 18 inches apart when they are 6 inches high, and earth them up in September. If this is not plain work I should like to know what is. Do not think that nothing but poor, half-grown sticks are secured by this simple plan. As a matter of fact, really good Leeks can be secured by it, provided the soil is well tilled. It is unlikely that anything else will be required afterwards than to eat the produce. Neither bird nor beast, neither storm nor frost, will hurt the plants. They will blanch steadily, and remain in the ground ready for use whenever they are wanted in winter or spring.
If very large Leeks are required, grow them in a heavily manured trench, and feed them up with liquid manure. To get the plants forward, sow them in a box in January or February.
I should set a bad example to the cultivator if I wrote a long chapter on Leek growing. That is to say, I should, by making a long-winded business of it, lead him to think it necessary to go into details of cultivation which will not affect the ultimate issue one iota.
I may, however, add this: No amount of good culture will give large sticks if poor varieties like the London Flag are chosen. The grower should choose Musselburgh or The Lyon at the least. If he wants large show stuff he must select a naturally fine variety like Carters' Holborn Model, Dobbies' International, or Suttons' Prize-taker, all of which are well known to me by culture in my own garden.
Lastly, do not start eating Leeks very early in the autumn; they improve with age. And if you know of no better way of cooking them, try putting them in a covered jar with a little butter, but no water, and baking them for two or three hours in an oven or on a hob. They will make their own juice, and prove tender, delicate, and delicious.