Perennial Multiplying Leek (True Seed)
Improvement Status: Cultivar/Breeding Material
Seeds per packet: ~45
Germination tested: Rare botanical sample - not germination tested
EFN EXCLUSIVE. Leeks were all originally perennial plants, but years of breeding for size and uniformity have resulted in common leeks performing best as an annual or biennial plant. Yet leeks want to be perennial! If you leave a regular leek in the ground for a year or two, and it is able to survive your growing conditions, chances are it will produce an offset or two (offsets are little bulbs that grow off the base of the plant). The famous 'Elephant Garlic' is actually a leek with very large bulbs. This strain of perennial multiplying leeks originated in New Zealand, and it behaves very differently than most leeks: the mother plants won't grow as big, but will produce loads of offsets compared to standard leeks, with the same (or better) delicate flavor. A patch of these leeks will persist for years and years, and regularly harvested and re-planted offsets will produce a regular crop of good-sized leeks (roughly 3/4" diameter).
In New Zealand, these rarely flower and make seeds, which is typical of perennial multiplying leeks, but Andy Hahn's patch in Colorado produced loads of seed last year, and we are thrilled to be offering them to you. As with Andy's Green Mountain Multiplier Onion seeds, the seeds from this lot will produce genetically distinct plants, so expect a diversity of forms. If you get a particularly great one, you can give it a name and reproduce it clonally as a new variety of perennial leek! For resilience and climate change mitigation, we need all the perennial vegetables we can get!
Growers are highly encouraged to sign up for Andy's Perennial Multiplying Leek Improvement project on the EFN website.
GROWING TIPS: Start in flats as early as possible (February or March). Transplant to a well-prepared bed once seedlings are a few inches tall and sturdy enough to stand up to the weather. Keep an eye on them throughout the season as they may ripen at different times. Once offsets start to appear, you may want to harvest mother plants. You will also want to leave some bulbs in the ground to see if they will perennialize in your area. They may die down to the ground in dry or cold weather, but the little bulbs will likely still be down there. If you've never grown perennial leeks before, you'd be wise to do some internet sleuthing to learn what to expect!
(Photo is not Andy's perennial leek — for which we have no photos — but a similarly behaving variety from our friend Telsing Andrews in Ottawa.)