No, we are not talking about the latest trends in the fashion industry, but about the real garden onion. But not about simple, turnip, and … about pearl.
Pearl onion is one of the names of leeks. Judging by the number and variety of varieties that have appeared on our market in recent years, leeks are rapidly entering the kitchen garden and gastronomic fashion and will soon take a worthy place on our beds and tables.
There are many reasons for this:
1. the First — a pleasant slightly sharp taste that can enrich a variety of dishes and not spoil them with a sharp onion smell.
2. the Second is a huge benefit. According to the set and amount of biologically active substances, vitamins and trace elements contained in it, leeks can be safely included in the list of medicinal plants. Experts say that leeks are the record holder among all vegetable crops in terms of potassium content. This means that its constant presence in the diet prevents cardiovascular diseases.
3. the Third reason is the resistance of the leek to diseases and pests: it will not cause unnecessary trouble in the garden, and the neighbors will not need insecticides for protection.
4. an Important advantage of this vegetable plant is a high yield with a relative compactness of cultivation.
5. Another remarkable feature is the ease of storage. In the open air (in a normal paper bag), leeks can be stored for at least two months, and in the refrigerator or any other cool place — five or six, that is, until the spring. Other storage methods are also suitable — drying, freezing.
6. And finally, the profitability of pearl onions. Look at the price ratio in the store: a kilogram of leeks is almost ten times more expensive than a kilogram of onions, and it is not more difficult to grow them from seeds.
Important: leek seeds retain germination for only one year, so stock up on fresh ones for planting.
But… With so many different advantages, there is only one quality that prevents this crop from becoming popular in our latitudes — a long vegetation period. Even the most precocious varieties have a period from sowing to harvesting of at least 140 days, and the later ones — up to 280. This means that in temperate zones, leeks have to be grown through seedlings. This is what stops many, but for those who do not want to mess with seedlings, there is good news. The fact is that leek is a two-year crop (it blooms and gives seeds for the next year), which means that most varieties winter well in the soil under snow cover. Therefore, it is much easier to grow leeks by sowing seeds in the soil in mid-summer. By autumn, it will grow up and get stronger and go under the snow. And next summer, you can harvest.
“Exterior” at height
Now you can buy seeds of varieties and hybrids of leek of Dutch, German, English, Czech selection.
The development of new varieties is mainly in two directions. The first is to create more and more precocious varieties, the second is to increase the yield of onions by increasing the weight and lengthening its snow-white leg (false stem).
On average, varieties and hybrids of pearl onions grow just above a meter, and the white part-20 to 35 cm high, 4 cm thick, weighing from 200-400 g.
Among the early leeks, you should pay attention to the Dutch variety ‘Columbus’, although this is not a novelty, but a super early variety that can give a good harvest in the middle lane. Its light green leaves emerge from a thick stem that reaches a diameter of 7 cm.
By the way, all early leek varieties have light green leaves, while late winter leeks have blue-green leaves with a bluish waxy coating. And despite the fact that leeks are sold with cut leaves, they are also quite edible, it is just easier to transport and store the plant without them.
It is interesting:
- A few years ago, the press reported that English gardener John Pearson grew a giant leek weighing about 9.2 kg! So far, no one has broken his record.
- If you hesitate and do not harvest the leek in time, it will also give you a beautiful large inflorescence-a ball.