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Old November 3, 2017   #1
bower
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Default Leek "pearls"

I decided to dig for a few pearls in my crowded patch of American Flag yesterday, to plant in a tub in the greenhouse for some winter greens. Most of them are already sprouting. A couple of the latest to flower didn't have any pearl formed yet (bottom pic right), but the others are good.

It is certainly a lot easier and quicker than starting from seed, to pull a few pearls from a perennial patch.
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Old November 3, 2017   #2
oakley
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I have an old patch that I just weeded and dug up for a future
garlic bed. Hundreds of pearls I should save and will do. Now
what, lol.
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Old November 3, 2017   #3
imp
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Wow, never knew leek would bulb up like that! Learn something new everyday. Do leeks commonly do that?
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Old November 3, 2017   #4
bower
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Quote:
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I have an old patch that I just weeded and dug up for a future
garlic bed. Hundreds of pearls I should save and will do. Now
what, lol.
Winter vegs! Leeks grow amazingly in the cold and dark days. I did the greenhouse thing once before, yummy greens all winter. I just cut them and let them regrow.
Or you could plant them outdoors for early spring, baby leeks.
Or I guess you could eat themselves too. I think I would try them if I had a huge surplus. (bigger patch, need a bigger patch.... )
I divided some perennial green onions that had bulbed too. This variety is great, they divide readily and flower not-as-readily, especially if you cut and come again. These flowered mid-summerish and in plenty of time to regrow another set of greens and divide before fall. I had no idea they were bulbers as well, until I dug em up.
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Old November 3, 2017   #5
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Quote:
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Wow, never knew leek would bulb up like that! Learn something new everyday. Do leeks commonly do that?
Leeks do that.
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Old November 4, 2017   #6
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Those look like the real pearl onion, which is also an Allium apeloprasum. It is interesting that a leek, which normally has no bulb, when grown from seeds, can be grown as perennial and it actually forms a bulb.

I planted some leek plants late this year to my raised bed, where I had grown early salad greens. The leeks are still quite slender and I have not harvested them, even we have had many days of freezing temperatures. I wonder, if those could overwinter in our climate. I do not know what type leeks those are, since I purchased the plants from clearance at a local nursery.

I just checked my seedbox and found a packet of American Flag leek seeds. It is from Guerney's and has been opened and taped shut, so I must have grown those when we lived in Wisconsin. There is no date in the package, but it must be over 10 years old, so those seeds may have lost all viability long time ago.

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Old November 4, 2017   #7
bower
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I'm not sure how much winter hardiness varies for different leek varieties, but certainly worth a try to overwinter them, especially at young stage. You could try mulching them too, to increase the chances.
Also you can cut them back to about an inch from the ground, eat the tops and leave the stumps to regrow next season. So nothing at all would be lost from trying.
If they survive they will likely flower next season. Pearls form at the bottom of the flower stalks when they are done. If the flowers are late, I think you can cut them to hasten the pearl forming process.

The only drawback of American Flag, they flower quite late for our short season, so it is a challenge to collect much seed. There was some seed formed this year though, so I've cut the heads and am letting them finish/dry out in a paper bag. From past experience, this can take a long time! On my last try, the stems remained green for months. Seed was viable though, but mostly not ready until January, and I had to remove them manually from the capsules since they didn't open and scatter as they would if they finished and dried in the field. I'll let you know if I get some seed from this batch, I can send you some. Seed viability for leeks and other alliums is usually quoted as only one year, although my fresh seeds here have remained viable for me the second year as well. So it is as well to use them up while they're fresh.

I have seeds of "Mammoth" leeks I intended to grow this year but my seed starting plans didn't pan out with the schedule for renos. But I think they will still be viable and I'm determined to get them started this time. They are late, for sure, but I may try overwintering a patch all the same, and hope to keep them going from pearls if I cannot get seed.
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Old November 4, 2017   #8
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My elephant garlic always produce those pearls, and they will sprout if left in the garden. They are a leek, so they do that.
After harvesting the seeds of Mammoth leeks, I cut the dry stalks to 3-4", then lifted the whole roots/stalks and replanted them somewhere in the garden as I needed the space. Sure enough, I got more babies sprouted out of the roots later. They can just keep going year after year from the same patch, multiply a few each season.
Bower, Alium seeds can be kept in a freezer to prolong their short life.

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Old November 4, 2017   #9
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Funny you should say that NewWest. While I was still working I must have planted elephant garlic and forgotten about it, later thinking it was all leeks I had growing wild wherever I let them go. I did see that some of the bulbils/pearls had the look of elephant garlic bulbils but didn't twig to the fact they were not leeks. This year I got a couple of really big bulbs and realized they were EG, not leeks. Maybe that is why my chopped leeks had such strong aroma in the freezer.

The flowers do look like leek flowers and hummingbirds like to feed on them so I let many bloom. They look really nice mixed into some monarda which is another hb fave.

Now I an wondering if the mix up is why I had two colours of 'leek' flowers.
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Old November 4, 2017   #10
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I like growing EG for their greens, now I think that is actually using them as leeks, go figure! Too funny.
I like the bulbs as well as the flowers too, people often comment on their big globe flower heads, definitely a bee magnet.

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Funny you should say that NewWest. While I was still working I must have planted elephant garlic and forgotten about it, later thinking it was all leeks I had growing wild wherever I let them go. I did see that some of the bulbils/pearls had the look of elephant garlic bulbils but didn't twig to the fact they were not leeks. This year I got a couple of really big bulbs and realized they were EG, not leeks. Maybe that is why my chopped leeks had such strong aroma in the freezer.

The flowers do look like leek flowers and hummingbirds like to feed on them so I let many bloom. They look really nice mixed into some monarda which is another hb fave.

Now I an wondering if the mix up is why I had two colours of 'leek' flowers.
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Old November 4, 2017   #11
bower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrowingCoastal View Post
Funny you should say that NewWest. While I was still working I must have planted elephant garlic and forgotten about it, later thinking it was all leeks I had growing wild wherever I let them go. I did see that some of the bulbils/pearls had the look of elephant garlic bulbils but didn't twig to the fact they were not leeks. This year I got a couple of really big bulbs and realized they were EG, not leeks. Maybe that is why my chopped leeks had such strong aroma in the freezer.

The flowers do look like leek flowers and hummingbirds like to feed on them so I let many bloom. They look really nice mixed into some monarda which is another hb fave.

Now I an wondering if the mix up is why I had two colours of 'leek' flowers.
American Flag has both white and lavender flowers. Maybe shades in between. I thought that was cool... some genetic diversity in the mix although it is an OP. They are outcrossing of course so each seed has been pollinated from a different flower.
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Old November 4, 2017   #12
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Yes Bower. I thought that was it but memory, too long, too many working years. Next year I will know for sure, maybe, as I have planted some in pots to watch more closely.

I have had my perma-leeks so long now that I rarely plant them. They seed, I weed. That's it until I dig up some of their bulbs in the spring for fall planting.

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Old November 4, 2017   #13
bower
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Perma-leeks... simply amazing! This is all new to me, from experiments in the last few years. I am so happy with the hardiness, for the leeks and the perennial green onions, I'm not kidding about making a bigger patch. These ones have been duking it out with some big perennials and weeds too for competition, in soil that wasn't great in the first place. Oh, and it's not too sunny either, on the south side of the garden with big trees blocking the light. I may get them to seed better as well, if I can make them a place in the sun. A nice rich place to run riot.
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Old November 5, 2017   #14
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Quote:
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I'm not sure how much winter hardiness varies for different leek varieties, but certainly worth a try to overwinter them, especially at young stage. You could try mulching them too, to increase the chances.
.
I overwinter a portion of my leeks each winter here in Southern Ontario and we have freezing temperatures and snow from December to early spring.
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Old November 5, 2017   #15
bower
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I overwinter a portion of my leeks each winter here in Southern Ontario and we have freezing temperatures and snow from December to early spring.
What varieties do you grow?
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