Earlier in the week I noticed one of my leeks was sending out a flower stalk (scape). As far as I can remember this is the first time I am having a leek flowering.
Had to bend the flower stalk to take the photo. The length of the leek from the root end to the flower bud was over 40 inches long.
My inquiring mind needed to know what the inside of a flowering leek looks like, reason I pulled the entire leek plant.
The larger circle in the cross section is the flower stalk the smaller circle is a new leaf. The flower stalk will become tough and inedible and from what I read the leek itself will become bitter. Fortunately I pulled the flowering leek as soon as I noticed the flower stalk and did not detect any bitter taste after cooking (I thinly sliced the leek and simmered the slices in a bit of broth so I can taste the leek itself). The white and light green section of the leek, including the flower stalk (up to the bent part, see first photo) was tender.
I froze the leek greens and the green upper section of the flower stalk (it was a bit rubbery) for later use to make vegetable stock or for flavoring soups and other dishes.
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The following is what I learned about flowering leeks:
1. Leek flowers are very beautiful and bees are attracted to them. Colors range from white to lilac to purple. Wonder what color mine will be?
2. Seed heads will develop once the flowers fade.
3. Each seed head will provide enough seeds for hundreds of baby leeks. If left in the garden these seeds will emerge as leek seedlings in the spring.
(If that is the case all I will need to do in the spring is to transplant these leek seedlings to where I want them to grow and mature which means I will no longer need to start leeks indoor under lights. This is a good thing.)
4. In about 6 – 8 weeks, baby leeks will grow from the base of the old (flowered) leek (this is similar to walking onion which I will be writing a separate post about at a later date, stay tuned). Remember the small circle in the above cross section photo that I say is a new leaf? Perhaps that will develop into a baby leek.
5. If I pull the entire leek plant once the flowers fade and start to develop into a seed head I will find small leek cloves clinging to the base of the old stalk. Separated and planted, each of the clove will grow into a new leek plant which I could use as baby leeks or leave in the garden and they will grow into full size leek plants ready for use in the spring (this is also a good thing, I can enjoy leeks in the spring) or I could use these cloves as baby onion substitute.
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The above information has gotten me quite excited and I am hoping to find at least 2 leeks flowering among my leeks.
I will let one plant go to seeds and self-sow in the garden (if possible, I will collect some of the seeds to start indoor just in case I do not get volunteers in the garden).
The other I will pull when the flowers fade and the seed head starts to develop so that I can separate and collect the leek cloves that are clinging to the base of the old stalk. I will plant some to observe how they develop and cook some to see how they taste.
Too bad I cannot “hurry up” the process.
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The week’s harvest includes cherry tomatoes, red noodles long beans, green Chinese long beans, Ping Tung eggplant, Shanghai bok choy, amaranth, Swiss chard and walking onion.
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