Leek: characteristics of culture and useful properties

Leek: characteristics of culture and useful properties

The sweetest onion in Northwest Russia

As I noted in previous articles, the Onion family unites about 30 genera and 650 species. The issues of taxonomy, distribution, biology of representatives of this family have long attracted the attention of researchers. But gardeners were more interested in the taste of the representatives of this family. A striking representative of this species is leek.

This onion is characterized by high yield, cold resistance; unlike onions, leeks are not affected by diseases and pests, it is distinguished by its versatility of use, as well as valuable dietary properties. This culture does not have a pungent smell and taste caused by the presence of active sulfur compounds. Its aroma is softer, and its taste is subtler, more pleasant, sweeter than that of onions.

Pantry of vitamins and minerals

Leek has a beneficial effect on the digestive system, increases appetite, improves the activity of the gallbladder, kidneys and liver, metabolism. Eating this vegetable in food contributes to the active work of the brain, strengthens the respiratory system, helps with physical and mental fatigue. In general, a vegetable that we cannot do without. Why buy questionable dietary supplements in pharmacies when leeks are called the "living periodic table" because of their rich chemical content.

It contains (in%): water 83-87, proteins 2-3, total carbohydrates 7.3-11.2, including sugar - 0.5; starch 0.3, fiber 1.5, fats 0.2, organic acids 0.1, ash 1.2; vitamins (mg%): A (carotene) - 0.03, B1 (thiamine) - 0.06-01, B2 (riboflavin) - 0.04-0.06, BZ - 0.1. IN6 - 000.3, B9 (folacin) - 0.03, C (ascorbic acid) - 35-80, E - 1.5-3, H - 0.14, PP (niacin) - 0.5, carotene - 0.7.

Minerals in onions (mg / 100 g): sodium - 50, potassium - 225, calcium - 87, magnesium -10, phosphorus - 58, iron - 1.0-2.4, as well as zinc, manganese, copper, silicon ...

Along with the main macro- and microelements, it includes nickel, cobalt, chromium, vanadium, molybdenum, titanium.

A unique property of leeks - during storage, the amount of vitamin C in the bulbs does not decrease, but increases from 40-50 mg per 100 g of raw material to 45-85 mg due to its outflow from the leaves. Leek - Japanese traditional medicine for the prevention of colds

Onions are mentioned in the works of the ancient Greek poet Homer, the historian Herodotus. In ancient Egypt, Pharaoh Cheops rewarded his most distinguished subordinates with bunches of leeks.

Leek is the most consumed vegetable in Japan and China. It is grown on an industrial scale and added to almost all local dishes. I think that not only in Great Britain, where there is currently a leek club, whose members exchange experience in growing this onion during meetings, organize exhibitions, but in our country this crop will soon attract more and more the attention of gardeners. Moreover, we already have real masters of their craft, who grow large yields of leeks from year to year. For example, this culture has long been mastered to perfection by the Romanov family from Kolpino.

Culture characteristics

I will not bore readers with a very detailed description of the morphological features of this culture. However, it still makes sense to dwell on its main characteristics. The root system of leeks is strong, fibrous, and consists of numerous weakly branching roots.

They grow from the stem at the base of the leaves and are arranged along the bottom in circles. They penetrate to a depth of 0.6 m. It is useful for gardeners to know that the roots of leeks are easily renewed, so it tolerates transplanting well. The leaf blade of the leek is wide - 3-10 cm, depending on the variety, it is bent along the central vein or flat, covered with a waxy coating. The color of the leaves varies from light green to dark green.

I want to draw the attention of gardeners to the fact that varieties with a blue-green leaf color have an increased content of saccharides, chlorophyll, due to which they have increased resistance to low temperatures, and they also have a thick waxy layer that protects the plant from virus carriers (aphids and thrips). An adult plant develops from 6 to 23 leaves. Leek leaves contain a lot of dry matter. Due to this feature, it can be stored for a long time (3-4 months) with leaves in a refrigerator or basement at a temperature of 1 ... 2 ° C.

Leek is a biennial plant, grown in culture as an annual. He eats a thickened leaf formation, which forms a false stem. The length of the false stem is a varietal characteristic and ranges from 10 to 80 cm, the thickness is 4-7 cm. In the second year of life, a straight flower arrow 100-150 cm high is formed at the leek. I think that gardeners do not engage in leek seed production in our climatic zone, it is possible only south of 55 ° N. sh. Therefore, I will not cover the botanical features of leeks in the second year of the growing season.

For the curious, it can be noted that often at low temperatures or when the buds are removed on the receptacle, along with the buds, airy bulbs are formed. This is due to the fact that leeks have an increased tendency to vegetative propagation. Aerial bulbs and flower buds can also form at the site of an arrow wound, they are also used for reproduction. In this case, the first two leaves, as in the case of growing from seeds, are tubular, and the subsequent ones are flat. But it is still more rational to grow leeks from seeds, especially since the agricultural technology of its cultivation is not complicated.

When growing leeks, it must be borne in mind that this plant is light and moisture-loving. He loves light fertile soils, but heavy, clayey and acidic soils are unsuitable for growing it. Leek thrives on soil with a pH of 6.5–7.5. If your soil is acidic, then it is better to lime it. It is advisable to do this in the fall. And that's why. Lime is not buried in the ground. It is scattered over the surface after the autumn digging so that it is better absorbed into the soil along with the rains.

At our site, we manage with a single-tier autumn digging of soil for leeks. Whoever has a heavy soil on the site or requires drainage, it is better to process it in a two-tiered way. And this should be done in the fall. I want to note that the fertility of the site largely depends on the correct tillage of the soil. There is a lot of talk now about organic farming. This practice is based on the theory of natural restoration of soil fertility due to the transformation of organic matter under the influence of the vital activity of bacteria into humus.

According to supporters of such minimal tillage, digging leads not only to the destruction of growing weeds, but also to the germination of numerous weed seeds in the soil. Followers of the organic school carry out sowing or planting plants on a layer of compost scattered over the surface of the earth. With an organic farming system, significant labor costs are spent on proper composting; good results are obtained in certain soil and climatic conditions and the introduction of a sufficient amount of organic matter.

We cultivate our soil in the traditional way. I believe that any method of soil cultivation, if carried out correctly, gives good results in specific conditions. It is imperative to take into account the location of your site and only practically find the best way to maintain its high fertility. But back to leek farming techniques.

Growing seedlings

Leeks in our climatic zone are planted with seedlings. Usually, gardeners have a question: when to sow onions for seedlings and how many days to grow them? In our area, we reaped a good harvest when planting fifty-day seedlings in the ground from May 25 to June 10. The thickest leg is obtained when 40 and 30-day seedlings are planted before June 5. This applies to medium early varieties.

When growing seedlings, light conditions greatly affect its quality. Therefore, it is better not to sow onion seeds for seedlings before mid-March. Usually, for growing leek seedlings, we use coconut substrate mixed with river sand 1: 1 with the addition of 40 g of diammofoska per 10 liters of soil. We plant with dry seeds on a moistened mixture in rows at a distance of 4-6 cm from each other. The seeding depth is 0.7-1 cm. Then we cover the container with the crops with a film and keep it until shoots appear at a temperature of 20 ... 25 ° C. When seedlings appear for 3-4 days, we lower the temperature to 8 ... 12 ° C so that the seedlings do not stretch out. In the future, we maintain the temperature of 18 ... 20 ° C during the day and 10 ... 12 ° C at night. We water the plantings as needed, avoiding either drying out or waterlogging of the soil.

Read the end of the article "Leeks, varieties and cultivation techniques" →

Vladimir Stepanov,
Doctor of Biological Sciences,
head of the farm "Elita",
Pskov region

Seedling care

As soon as leek shoots appear, the temperature should be lowered so that it is 17 ° C during the day and 12 ° C at night. After a week, the temperature regime is changed again. Now the leeks should be at a temperature of 20 ° C during the day and 14 ° C at night. Watering is carried out as needed, when the topsoil begins to dry out. For irrigation, settled warm water is used.

2 weeks after the emergence of seedlings, the first feeding is carried out. Organic fertilizer, such as bird droppings, is most suitable for these purposes. It is pre-diluted with water in a ratio of 1:20 and infused for 5-7 days. Top dressing is carried out only after watering, on wet ground, every 2 weeks.

For winter sowing, the seedlings need to be illuminated until mid-March. In the future, the seedlings will have enough natural light. The room must be periodically ventilated, while avoiding drafts.

On a note! Every 2 weeks, the leek leaves are pruned, leaving a length of 9-10 cm. This technique will help to thicken the lower part.

Harvesting and storage

It is advisable not to pluck the leaves from leeks intended for long-term storage during growth. Harvest ripe onions before the temperature drops to -5 ° C. Dig up the plants, dry a little, remove the clods of earth with your hands, while trying to prevent the soil from contaminating the green part.

Trim the roots, leaving 1 /3... The leaves can also be trimmed, but for long storage it is best to leave them long. Next, remove the onion for the winter, sorting out all damaged and diseased or pest-affected specimens.

There are several ways to store leeks:

  1. Storage in a box (bucket) with sand. Preliminary 30-40 minutes. calcine the sand in the oven at 200 ° C. Before laying the vegetable, slightly moisten the sand, but do not allow it to become wet. Pour 5-7 cm of sand into a box, place the leek stalks vertically. Add more sand, covering the entire white part of the stem. Cover with a lid, put in a cool (about 0 ° C) and humid (80-85%) place - basement, cellar. If the leek will be stored on the balcony, cover it with a cotton blanket.
  2. In a trench in an elevated position. Dig a trench 6-7 cm wide, put leeks in it, sprinkle with earth, cover with boards, leaving small holes. In rain and frost, cover the top with foil.
  3. In the pit. Dig a hole to hold the entire bow upright. Load the leek, sprinkle with earth. In the cold, close the top with dry leaves. It is advisable to put coniferous branches in the pit to scare away rodents.
  4. Greenhouse. You can put the structure right above the leek beds. It is better to dig it up beforehand and shorten the roots, this will stop growth, preserve the taste. You need to dig the onion into the ground halfway, collect the greenhouse on top. The temperature inside must be at least 0 ° C.
  5. Chilled or frozen. Rinse whole leeks, dry, cut, put in a bag, fill with air, close. The shelf life is 1 month. To freeze leeks for the winter, they also need to be washed and dried, chopped, portioned, and frozen.
  6. Drying onions. Rinse the vegetable, dry it, cut it, leave it for several days at room temperature. It is advisable to cover the top with gauze. Can be oven dried for 15 minutes. at 100 ° C. Store this onion tightly sealed in a cool, dry place.

If all the rules for growing and caring are followed, leeks give high yields. A variety of varieties and many ways to preserve the harvested crop allow you to enrich your diet with tasty and healthy vegetables throughout the year. When using it, you must remember that there are contraindications to its use.

Brief characteristics of the plant

Leek (Allium ampeloprasum) is a biennial plant belonging to the Amaryllidaceae family. In the first year, forms a root system, a shortened stem and long leaves. In the next growing season, the plant produces flowers and seeds. In vegetable gardens, as a rule, it is grown as an annual. This bow came to Europe from Asia Minor in the Middle Ages. Leek can be grown in all vegetable growing regions, in the Moscow region, the Leningrad region, Siberia, and the Urals.

The plant has a shortened stem and long green leaves. It is these two parts that are considered edible. The vegetable has a rather spicy, characteristic taste.

  • has an antiseptic, that is, disinfectant and antibacterial effect
  • supports digestion
  • lowers blood sugar
  • thanks to the easily absorbed iron, it can be used in the treatment of anemia
  • acts on the respiratory system, enhances secretion (leek syrup)
  • treats bad breath
  • leek is considered an aphrodisiac, good for men.

Unfortunately, the vegetable can cause bloating; it is not recommended to use it for people with peptic ulcer disease, stomach diseases, and pregnant women.

Leek has a high nutritional value and contains:

  • a lot of iron
  • folic acid
  • niacin
  • riboflavin
  • vitamins - B, A, C, E, K.

Leeks are easy enough to grow. The growing season can be 70-170 days depending on the variety.

Contraindications to be aware of

Despite the many health benefits of leeks, leeks can be harmful as well. So, with excessive use of this product, the pressure rises, the acidity level of the stomach rises and the digestive system is disrupted. Due to its low oxalate content, this product is recommended to be eaten in moderation for those prone to kidney stones. Leeks should be avoided in their diet for people suffering from gastrointestinal ulcers, especially during an exacerbation of the disease.

In addition, leeks should be used with extreme caution by nursing mothers. Onions along with garlic are not recommended for food in large quantities, due to the fact that the baby may not like the taste of breast milk.

Even 50 years ago, he was practically unknown in Russia. Today, leeks are second only to garlic and onions in popularity.

Mesopotamia and Egypt are considered the homeland of leeks as a garden culture.
Even the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans knew leeks as a food plant. Thanks to archaeologists in our time, it became known that during the construction of the pyramids in Egypt, the workers were fed nothing other than leeks so that they had more strength. In Egypt, leeks were cultivated as early as three thousand years BC.

Subsequently, leeks began to be widely cultivated in Ancient Greece and Rome. Among the Romans, it was considered the food of the rich and was used in salads and as a seasoning for meat dishes. Roman Emperor Nero used it in large quantities, trying to preserve his voice for making long speeches. He was called "the leek-eating". Apicius recommended to use green leeks as a salad, and colorless to boil or use as a seasoning for some dishes.

In 640, on the territory of present-day Wales, a significant battle took place between the Welsh and the Anglo-Saxons, in which the Welsh, at the suggestion of their future legendary Saint David, attached leek stalks to their hats to distinguish their own from the enemy. The Welsh won, and in honor of the victory, leek soup has since become their national dish, and leek itself has become one of the symbols of Wales. The leek has since acquired the role of a talisman as a talisman against wounds and a symbol of recognition in magic. There was even a belief that if a girl put a leek under her pillow at night, the narrowed one would recognize her or dream about her.

Very popular in modern France - even the name, or rather the surname of the famous detective Hercule Poirot - the hero of Agatha Christie - means a bow (Poirot). And the famous Cipollino written by Gianni Rodari is a leek. And Alice in Wonderland gets the leek recipe: “Green leeks! Yes, chop it, my friend! And the butter of the fields! "

In the mountainous regions of the Caucasus and Greece, wild leek varieties are still used today. Leeks are present on the coat of arms of a famous Canadian city Calgary.

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