Growing leeks is not difficult but is certainly not for every gardener; they have a long growing season and to my knowledge are not sprayed with poisons by commercial farmers.
Also you can usually buy them fairly fresh from the greengrocer.
But, if you're a greenie, and have a large garden then your own delicious, healthy leeks may be important to you as they are to me.
The onion family is well known for its health properties, quite apart from the great taste, particularly a phytochemical known as allicin. It's a powerful antioxidant; that means it mops up free radicals and helps prevent cancer.
Whether it's leeks, garlic, or the common onion, they need to be daily in the healthy diet; add sliced green shallots to your salad and you have the perfect balance of raw and cooked members of the allium family.
For years we bought onions in vast quantities until I realised that grown in our own organic garden they would provide even more health and we could relish them just the same.
Now, if I'm making our eggs Florentine for breakfast, or even a salad, shredded leeks provide great flavour, and enough of the phytochemical allicin.
Leeks are also rich in another bioflavonoid called kaempferol which has been strongly linked in the journal Medicinal Chemistry for its protection against a host of diseases in including diabetes, osteoporosis and high estrogen. Read about it in this short review on the dietary flavonoid kaempferol.
At this phytochemical foods page you can find out about the many other vital such substances that we should be enjoying if we want to reach a healthy, vital eighty with all our marbles intact.
Growing leeks from seed is actually the way we started. But if you inadvertently planted them too thickly, then they start to produce pups. Taking a clump and splitting them and separating them out is even easier.
Leeks are slow growing. Perhaps most difficult is protecting them from your own careless boots when they are young.
Weed control is also important obviously; a mulch helps. Companion planting is not unimportant. Here they are protecting kale from bugs and diseases.
A clump of leek seedlings like this will never thrive unless you split them and plant them out.
The growing leeks have taken offense at me lifting them out of their comfort zone from the clump above but within a couple days they'll be raising their weary heads. I'll water them daily until they've chirped up.
These were planted out in early in spring, mid September to be precise in the Southern hemisphere.
In just another couple months we'll be enjoying vichysoisse several times a week. The Irish leek and potato soup recipe below is one of my favourites, hot or cold.
Here is the leek patch, two months later, in mid November. Isn't interesting how such a sorry looking mess of seedlings with water and care can appear so different?
I'm testing a theory that onions and legumes should not be grown together. So far, both look fantastic.
Last night we enjoyed our first vichyssoise soup; whilst both the leeks and potatoes in our garden are young, we have so many that we can indulge in premature first fruits.
The green beans are in flower and we'll be enjoying them within a week; they have a short life and will soon be out, allowing the growing leeks to go on to maturity, with nitrogen enriched soil that all legumes bring to the earth.
The potato plants are just poking their heads through the ground; before Christmas it'll be soup galore.
Growing your own vegetables, and cooking your own basic foods from scratch is such a joy. But it does mean getting your hands dirty, stretching the lower back and turning the television off. None of that did any harm, especially the TV. Let's enjoy ourselves instead of watching others having fun.
Phytochemical foods should be part of your medicine chest; it's been said before. Those enjoying their own plentiful supply of fresh fruit and vegetables are getting enough of the anti oxidant phytochemicals that prevent cancer and have so many other health properties; just one example is growing leeks.
They are the orange in butternut, the purple in blueberries, the green in spinach and so on. Enjoy coloured foods daily and you'll find yourself taking a heap less drugs. I take none; literally. Allicin is just one of these phytochemicals in your growing leeks.
What about if you don't enjoy eating these foods; you just don't like the taste, or the consistency or the whatever. Medicine never did taste good; swallow them quickly.
Allicin benefits abound for those growing leeks.
The allium family of vegetables not only add enormous nutritional value to our diet, they are anti inflammatory and contribute more to the flavour of our meals that perhaps any other veggie. Just where would we be without leeks for a soup, garlic for olive pate, shallots for a salad, and onion on a burger?
Is it your desire to take no medication, or almost none, enjoy a long and, if you have no serious injuries, largely pain free life? Then make sure you are enjoying these anti inflammatory foods on a daily basis; shun fast foods.