My best leeks last year were sown in September and planted out in the last week of December, and harvested over June and July. As my September sowings in punnets for this year are ready now, it's time to get cracking on the planting.
But as I'm spading up the beds, I feel strangely reluctant in my work.
To plant the leeks, I take the seedlings from the flats and cut the green tops to 20cm, and the roots to about 5cm, then I poke the leeks into holes that have been dibbled 15-17 deep in the moist beds. Dibbling the leeks in this deep means there is a nice blanched stem come harvest -- the white part of the leek is the tenderest and sweetest.
Mulling over the process, I realise my reluctance. Last year it was the dibbling of the thousand-or-so holes per planting that got me down. Stooping over for more than an hour, poking holes in the dirt with a stick as a dibbler.....no fun.
There must be a better way.
I suppose I could get a broom handle and put a collar on it about 17 cm from the bottom, then I could push it into the earth as deep as the collar to dibble the hole. Or.....with three rows per bed, what about a three row dibbler?
At this point I get excited and decide to build a three-row leek dibbler entirely of wood (no metal fixings such as nails, screws or staples; no glue). I've always wanted to make something with wooden pegs as fixings.
And here is the trident in action:
Also, the peg fixings of the trident means there is play in the joins, so she creaks and talks as you work, an unforeseen but happy circumstance.
Then it's time to pull the leek seedlings from the flats and trim them. Here's a handful.
I'll probably hoe the leeks twice over the next few months for weed control, before the leaves get too big for the hoe to move between the rows. Then there will be some hand weeding as the year gets colder and darker and the leeks get bigger and sweeter. I'm looking forward to the first leek of the year already!