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Allium ampeloprasum

Plant for Leek and Potato soups, for generous sheaths and bulbs, and for the spirit of Welsh resistance to invasion!

Hardy from Zones 5-8. Up to 2 feet tall at maturity.

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We like having lots of different Alliums peppered throughout perennial garden beds. Garlic Chives and Walking Onions spread their way around Blackberry patches and underneath Apples and Pears. Every now and then you’ll see a clump of another beautiful and pungent Allium, our friend the Leek! They’re a bundle of beautiful green sheaths with a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, and a great way to get a mild onion flavor without tilling lots of soil for annuals (though we sure like them too!). Lots of folks like the crunchy white base and light green sheaths, so dig them up to harvest the big ones and replant small ones to keep growing. Boil or fry or eat raw in salads! Or just cut back the green for soup stocks and sautés and leave the bulbs in the ground to resprout!

Archaeologists have found dried Leeks, and ancient murals, in Egypt. Mesopotamian farmers started growing them around 4,000 years ago. The name comes from the Old English word leac. Somewhere along the way, they became the national emblem of Wales, like Maple leaves in Canada, Shamrocks in Ireland, or Lotuses in India! Leeks show up on the cap badges of the Welsh Guards, in the coronation gown of Elizabeth II, and in Shakespeare’s Henry V, where he references an ancient Welsh tradition of wearing a Leek like it’s a hat. That tradition might come from King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd, a legendary messianic hero who would return to deliver the Britons from Anglo-Saxon invasion. Cadwaladr and his warriors once fought the Saxons in a Leek field, so he ordered his fighters to wear the perennial vegetable on their helmets so he’d know who they were. Maybe the allium smell was supposed to ward them off! Bold and creative move to adopt the potent symbolism of Leek!

We propagate our Leeks from divisions in our forest gardens.