All Hail the Humble Leek

Behold the beginnings of greatness:

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This is my second year of growing leeks from seeds. Last year’s attempt resulted in rather puny specimens, but I’m determined that by the end of this summer I will have nice big fat leeks. In researching how to grow them successfully, I came across some interesting information, the humble leek has a rather distinguished history.

The leek  appears on the Royal Badge of Wales and is worn proudly on the cap of  The Welsh Guards

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And, as a symbol of one of the countries of the British Commonwealth, leeks also appeared in embroidered and beaded form on the coronation gown of Elizabeth II, along with the thistle, shamrock and maple leaf – the thistle represented Scotland, I don’t think I need to explain the shamrock or maple leaf.

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According to the gospel of Wikipedia, Norman Hartnell, the queen’s dress designer, asked if he could replace the leek with another symbol of Wales, the daffodil. He was denied. Maybe that’s why he placed the leeks right where it would be hidden in most pictures, behind the queen’s folded hands. He clearly never had the pleasure of a delicious and comforting bowl of vichyssoise.

It’s now been about two and half weeks since I sowed the seeds and my little leek seedlings are coming along beautifully. They are flourishing under flourescent lights that Mark and I set up on a shelving unit in the corner of our apartment’s living room. We had put up the removable shelves and lights last spring after the previous year’s debacle of attempting to start seeds on the very uncertain climate of my windowsill.

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This year’s seeds are growing in my own seed mix combination of compost tea, vermiculite, perlite and coir – coconut husk fiber. (Note to self: Next time you order coir, do not order a giant brick of it. A coir brick has the consistency of a cement block and all attempts at “chipping” away at it with a knife or saw are nearly impossible and will only result in coir dust all over the kitchen and some very undignified swearing and sweating.)

By August, we should be sitting down to a nice leek tart, or potato and leek galette or a simple bowl of vichyssoise.

Take that Norman Hartnell.

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