Optimizing Year Round Leek Production in the Ozarks
This first year of research involved multiple succession plantings using multiple manners of “seedling” production. These experiments have begun to show the possibilities of a much more extended season for leeks, which traditionally, for our farm, have been a primarily overwintered, hoop house crop.
Expanding the season of leek production will require multiple growing methods suited to each season and growing condition. The research intent is to explore some of these methods, especially as relates to the early stages of seedling production. Because the leek seedlings started from seed take well over a month to achieve siginificant size, it is the hope of this research to develop some possible methods for producing the next season’s seedlings, clones and bulbs from the leek crop, in addition to the marketed harvested mature leeks.
Objectives for the year included an overwintered crop in the hoop house, with efforts at mulitiple methods of achieving a propogation method in additon to the harvest. Other objectives were an outdoor crop for the late spring and into the warm season, and more experiments with fall transplanting of clones and seedlings.
In the first year of research, crops were started from seed, transplanted seedling clones, and transplants of cloned bulbs.
Indoor crops overwintered in an unheated hoop house were divided into two groups. Half the mature leeks were left to continue development and “bolt”, go to seed, and generate seedling clones and seedling bulbs at the base of the mother plant in fall. The other half were chopped at 1/2″ above soil level and left in place.
Outdoor crops were started with two sets of seedlings, one set was started in late December of the previous year, and the other set was started mid January. Both sets of seedlings were transplanted outdoors in mid spring and maintained throughout the summer.
Indoor crops for the next winter season were started in fall, using multiplied clone bulbs and seedlings that resulted from the indoor crop experiments from the previous season.
Raised beds were transplanted, some with seedling clones, with tops developing, some with cloned bulbs, without any tops and still in a dormant bulb form. some bulbs were held back in storage, intended for early spring planting. Other raised beds in the hoop house were transplanted with true seedlings, started from seed during the summer.
These comparison groups were all maintained with consistent weeding and watering. the hoop house crops receive over head water daily as needed, and the outdoor crops were planted in rows under soaker hose drip irrigation.