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Leek is a herbaceous biennial plant known to man since ancient times. Leek contains many nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
One of the characteristic features of leeks is that during storage, in the white part of the stem, the amount of ascorbic acid increases sharply - almost twice.
Therefore, leeks are used as a means that can increase human immunity, the body's resistance to various infections.
In addition, leeks have a wonderful - spicy and delicate - taste and are widely used for preparing meat, fish, vegetable dishes and salads.
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Growing leek seedlings
Leeks have a long growing season, therefore, in most regions of our country, this plant is grown using seedlings.
The timing of sowing seeds to obtain seedlings is as follows:
- Mid or late February (seeds are planted in seedling window boxes).
- The second decade of April (the seeds are planted in a glazed greenhouse), the last decade of April (the seeds are planted directly on the garden bed, necessarily covered with a film).
For leeks, daylight hours range from ten to twelve hours, therefore, when planting seeds in February, it is necessary to provide additional lighting for the seedlings.
For sowing leeks, small boxes with moistened soil are used. Seeds are planted in rows every five centimeters. The depth of the groove is up to 1.5 centimeters.
Crops must be covered with foil and placed in a warm, well-lit room. After the first shoots have appeared, the film can be removed, and the temperature in the room can be lowered to seventeen degrees during the day, and to twelve at night.
In such conditions, the seeds need to be kept for another week, then the temperature should be raised to twenty degrees during the day, and up to fourteen at night. These conditions should be maintained until the end of the seedling growing period.
Temperature regime is the most important condition for obtaining a good harvest. Care must be taken that the temperature is not too high (otherwise the leek will rush to drive out the arrows).
After about a month, thickened seedlings need to be thinned out. The distance between plants should be two to three centimeters.
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To strengthen the seedlings, you need to water them with compost tea. Top dressing should be done in two weeks for the entire growing period. It is recommended to cut leek leaves at the level of eight to ten centimeters, this will lead to increased development of the root system, thickening of the stem.
On the eve of disembarkation, the seedlings need to be hardened, that is, from time to time taken out into the street, accustoming them to natural conditions. Remember that leek seedlings develop rather slowly and are ready to plant at least six to eight weeks of age.
Planting leek seedlings
The best soil for planting leeks is a fertile, light loam with a non-aggressive environment.
The leek site must be prepared in the fall, adding at least six kilograms of compost per square meter of soil to the garden. In the spring, it is permissible to add some more humus or compost (up to three kilograms per square meter).
Leeks love the soil on which cucumbers, potatoes, legumes, cabbage, and tomatoes grew before them.
Leek seedlings are planted in the garden in May. Before planting, the leaves and roots should be shortened by a third, and many gardeners also dip the roots in the so-called "talker" - a mixture of mullein and clay. This method enhances the survival rate of seedlings.
The holes for planting seedlings are up to thirteen centimeters deep; a little rotted manure or compost must be put on the bottom. Seedlings are planted strictly one plant at a time, sprinkling the roots with earth and watering the plant.
It is better if the leek beds are narrow, but if they turn out to be wide, it does not matter, you can plant carrots in the aisles: these two plants get along well not far from each other. Leeks are also good friends with strawberries, onions, beets and celery.
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How to properly care for leeks
Leek care includes the following procedures:
- Loosening the soil.
- Top dressing.
- Weed removal.
Also, such a technique as mulching - enrichment of the soil with the help of the upper organic layer will not be superfluous.
When the onion stalks have reached the thickness of the diameter of a ballpoint pen, you need to pour earth into the holes. Hilling should be carried out every two weeks: in this case, the stem will turn out to be longer and white. The minimum number of hillocks per season is four. Hilling is best done in combination with watering.
Leek is a plant that is demanding on soil fertility and the amount of moisture. In the first half of the growing season, watering and feeding should be especially abundant. The best fertilizer will be bird droppings and mullein. Fertilizer should be applied in the form of solutions in a ratio of one to twenty (for poultry droppings) and one to eight (for mullein).
The main productive part of leeks is, of course, the bleached stem, which is also called the "leg". If the care is carried out correctly, the stem reaches fifty centimeters in length and up to four centimeters in thickness.
Of course, growing leeks is a rather painstaking task, but not as difficult as it seems.
The main thing is to start, and then things will go, and you will get a harvest of an excellent product that enjoys well-deserved popularity throughout the world.