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Wild leek

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  • Wild leek

    After some speculation whether the leek that goodlife bought many years ago from the now defunct Future Foods company, is Babington's Leek or something else, we came to the conclusion that it is possibly the true wild leek that still hangs on in some warmish coastal areas in Britain.

    She explained that it propagated freely from offset 'babies' and sent me a clump to plant here in December 2014. They have come through 2 winters fine and have fattened up considerably into into sizeable leeks. They have produced no babies apart from one that is tiny and really not ready for being detached. Currently they are preparing to flower.

    I wonder when they will start producing offset 'babies' like they did for goodlife? I will certainly let them flower and harvest the seeds. I had sort of expected them to make offsets last year, but they just bulked up dramatically. So much so that I wonder whether they are planted too close and I should have spaced them better to allow for offset 'babies'. But I am not moving them now that they are developing flower scapes.

    In fact, goodlife had so many offsets I wondered whether they were actually a form of Perlzwiebel, like Minogue. Growing the plants here shows that they are very different from Minogue. They are definitely a leek, slightly shorter, but stouter than Babington's. The foliage is dark green and I had some faint purple showing on the leaf tips last winter.

    I am still hoping for something like on this youtube video. This is what goodlife had and gave to me.

    This wild leek remains a mysterious plant. Having read that they like the milder parts of Britain where they are still hanging on in the wild, I am glad that we had fairly mild winters since I got the plants. It will be good to have seeds as insurance against colder winters. Although they survived some cold winters at goodlife's location.

    After flowering (unless they start making offset babies) I may need to dig up and move every other plant, in case they need more space to make 'babies'. The video also mentions copious fertiliser but goodlife said that she hadn't fertilised a lot. Mine had the usual dusting of fish/blood/bone meal but not a lot of extra. Maybe now is the time to help them with a bit more?

    I hope the original bulbs survive after flowering. If not, seeds will be very welcome to try again as this has the potential for a useful perennial plant.

    The url refers to the original discussion (under the topic of Babington's leek) on A4A. There is a reference by goodlife to an article celebrating the flowering event in one of the locations that this wild leek still hangs on.

    Always assuming of course that we have identified this plant correctly as 'Wild Leek'. It certainly is nothing like Babington's leek and very different also from Multiplier Onion Minogue.,78539.0.html

    Last edited by Galina; 23-05-2016, 08:48.

  • #2
    A couple of photos of what they looked like when they arrived and what they look like now. And of the tiny offset leek plant - here is hoping for many more of these. Replanting these is supposed to be the main propagation mode for wild leek and my start from goodlife was a clump of baby leeks. But as mine are getting ready to flower I am also hoping for seeds.
    Last edited by Galina; 24-05-2016, 07:54.


    • #3
      They look great, I wonder why they are behaving so differently, weather/temperature? Are you still in touch with Goodlife, I wonder how hers are doing? Wish Anja was still about


      • Galina
        Galina commented
        Editing a comment
        Sadly not in contact with Anja and share your sentiments, PKL is loosely via another group. Yes there would be so much to tell her about plants and seeds originally from her.

        Well if the flowering event in Wales was something to celebrate, then so must be mine. And flowers will hopefully mean seeds, but too early to promise for the seed circle as yet. You know what they say about stressed plants tending to flower. Whilst these don't look too stressed, they are relatively closely spaced, maybe this was why they won't make so many offset babies. Or maybe the babies are still coming and I am just impatient. Perhaps it all just took a little longer before they were established here. We will see. Btw have added a photo of how they were when they arrived in December 2014.
        Last edited by Galina; 24-05-2016, 07:56.

    • #4
      I'm surprised her ears aren't burning and come to have a look I mean this in the nicest way. Her enthusiasm was just amazing! (I'm growing Cuban Black and Snowflake tomatoes this year, which I think are both from her)

      Yes celebrate the flowering leeks, fingers crossed for seeds. Do the flowering ones die back or carry on growing?


      • Galina
        Galina commented
        Editing a comment
        We will have to find out, unless Goodlife comes to tell us (yes please)! Who knows, she might be reading this - we miss ya Girl!!!

        Btw (off topic) Cuban Black were the earliest tomatoes to flower here on plants that are still fairly small.

      • jayb
        jayb commented
        Editing a comment
        Good news for Cuban Black, I'm not sure where mine are at the moment, in a pot amongst the outdoor sorts somewheres! Not the first to flower out of that group for me though.

    • #5
      Ahhh! We now have 6 tiny babies. This time of year may well be when they develop. Could just be that last year the plants were simply too small and used all their energy to grow bigger.

      Goodlife did say at the time that the plants she sent me should probably have been planted earlier in the year. If so they might have grown big enough for babies the following year. As it was, they took a year out to establish here and established they certainly have


      • #6
        Fantastic! Way to go little leeks, big happy grin for you


        • #7
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          Well those 6 tiny babies disappeared. In fact all foliage disappeared as these leeks started flowering. At the moment I am considering taking the maturing flower heads off and ripen the seeds further indoors. I don't want them to scatter, but I also want them to ripen. The flower heads were so big that one toppled over and broke. Have replanted as it had a couple of roots left at the break and staked all the others or tied them to stakes. At the break I now have lots of little baby plants, but on some of the others we also have multipliers appearing. Maybe this is how they normally go - flower first, then produce babies? Still learning about this exciting leek and how to grow it properly.

          Photo shows bare stems with developing baby leek plants.
          Last edited by Galina; 29-09-2016, 18:15.


          • #8
            I was a little concerned when goodlife mentioned that her leeks had never produced any viable seeds at all and barely flowered, whereas all the leeks here flowered. The seed ripened and looked good. As usual with leeks the drying has to go right up to the wire, It took until the end of the year for the seeds to fully dry. Very pleasing to see that they are germinating without problems. And equally pleasing that the old stumps, where I had cut off the seed heads are now surrounded by baby leek plants. These I will transplant soon. I have found a video from Australia which describes these or very similar leeks and their cultivation:


            • #9
              Does anyone know where I can get hold of Babington leeks - I'm really interested in trying them out they sound fascinating


              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Wild Leek or Babington Leek? The two are different.

            • #10
              Both really but I understand wild leeks are hard to come by so I thought Babington's was easier to get hold of 😀


              • #11
                I know Backyard Larder has Babington leeks.

                Disclaimer: I haven't bought anything from there before but they do have a few interesting things.
                Last edited by Silverleaf; 24-04-2017, 07:04.


                • #12
                  Originally posted by Silverleaf View Post
                  I know Backyard Larder has Babington leeks.

                  Disclaimer: I haven't bought anything from there before but they do have a few interesting things.
                  Thanks - I've just ordered some perennial kale from there, didn't notice the leeks 😬 So do you know where I can find Wild leek or is it like finding the Holy Grail 😁


                  • #13
                    Barkingdog, I have shared my seeds with the seed circle on Allotments for All forum. It should be grown more widely we hope.

                    Yesterday I harvested the rest of my ordinary leeks. And several of them had tiny bulblets around the stem just above the roots. I have cut off the top on the one with most of these bulblets to prevent flowering. Then I replanted this leek. I hope that instead of flowering, the tiny bulblets will grow into baby plants around the old leek. In other words, my experiment for this year is to grow an ordinary leek and force it into vegetative multiplication by preventing flowering. Or to put it simply, explore how to grow a garden leek along the lines of a Wild Leek..

                    Much has been written on this forum about what happens when we grow shallots to seed (which are traditionally reproduced by offsets) and you might find this interesting to read. If you have ordinary leeks in the garden, you might try your hand at breeding your own line of Wild Leek by encouraging vegetative multiplication over a few years. Would be great to compare notes on this experiment.
                    Last edited by Galina; 26-04-2017, 09:23.


                    • #14
                      Blimey - only two days later ...............................
                      Photo shows the cut leek planted in a little pot. And one of the bulblets has already grown. Will be interesting to see if and how many of the other bulblets will grow into a separate plant.
                      Last edited by Galina; 28-04-2017, 04:53.


                      • #15
                        Are 'wild leeks' in this context considered synonymous with what is often traded as 'perennial leek' or 'perpetual leek/poireau perpétuel'?
                        I got a few bulbils of 'Poireau perpétuel' from Incredible Vegetables in winter, as well as seeds of what were named 'perennial leeks' from Kelly Winterton, and have since found clusters of some sort of dividing leek at the new allotment. All are growing well, and the feral clusters at the allotment have now produced scapes. Should I expect seed or bulbils from these, or both? Could they be Babington's? I have a few young Babs but honestly do not know how to differentiate.