Growing Guide: Leeks, Onions, and Chives
Fragrant Bundles of Alliums
You can start these alliums from seed, but get a head start with young seedlings or onion sets. Planting your own can save you green at the grocery store and up your garden game.
Let a few plants send up blooms. The globes of white or lavender star-shaped flowers are just one more reason why alliums are so stinking beautiful.
American Flag Leeks
Garden Tip: For leeks, simply press the handle of a garden rake or a dibble into the soil to make uniform, 6-inch-deep holes; then drop in seedlings for soldier-straight rows. For fat, milky-white stalks, let rain fill in holes over time. A gentle tug releases the leek.
Texas Sweet White Onions
Garden Tip: Leave a 6-inch space between plants so bulbs can form. Or space closely and harvest alternating plants as a midseason treat: tender green onions. Store in a cool, dry, dark place with lots of air circulating. Never suffocate them in plastic bags—they’ll rot. Sweet onions such as Texas sweets, are best for eating fresh.
Garden Tip: Chives make an excellent border for a garden bed, or they can be grown in a 4- to 6-inch pot if only a few are needed. Start with either seeds or transplants, and select a site with full sun and rich soil. When cutting chives, select a few leaves on the edge of a clump. Snip them off near the soil, even if you do not need the entire leaf.
Tip #1 Soil Test: A soil test is the smart way to assess your soil’s pH and any nutrient deficiencies. The results will help you determine what type of amendments or fertilizers are needed. You can have your soil tested from the Cooperative Extension office.
Tip # 2: Seeds vs. Transplants
Tip # 3: When to Water
Cooking with Alliums
Bitter meets sweet in this warm salad. Leeks gain caramelized sweetness when given a subtle char, and citrus spiked with a touch of honey counters the radicchio's bite. It's important to let the vegetables sit for a bit after they're grilled to allow them to steam and become supple.
Braised Chicken with Honey-Lemon Leeks