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Getting A Jump-Start On Growing Leeks

Green stalks on a white background.
It's nearly time to start growing leeks indoors! Gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi has some advice.

Gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi shares his expertise each week and answers listeners' questions about gardening, house plants, veggie starts and more. It's nearly time to start growing leeks indoors, and we learn the methods to do just that plus how to overwinter your rosemary plant and replant it in the spring.

Early February is the right time to begin starting leek plants from seed indoors. Begin by choosing the best variety of seed for your desired outcome.

Tadorna and Bandit: These leek seeds are reliable for a fall crop, and these will even overwinter and taste great if you wait to harvest until after a frost.

Striker and King Richard: These leek varieties are fast-maturing, though you'll want to pull them up from your garden before a hard frost hits.

Once you've chosen the leek seed, place about four seeds in a small pot filled with potting soil and use grow lamps. These need to grow indoors for at least four months before moving outdoors in May.

One tip for planting leeks is to use a pencil to separate them from their bunch, then dig a hole at least six inches deep and place the plants inside. You don't need to cover it as watering and rainfall will help the soil do the job for you. This method ensures you'll get that blanched white leek stem that makes for a milder taste.

Q: I kept a rosemary plant in a pot on my porch all summer... I brought it inside for the winter, and the main stalk has grown bark-y and tree-like, but the new growth is delicate with curly leaves. What can I do, and can I put it back outdoors in the spring? — Anna, in South Hero

(Full disclosure, Anna is a plant-loving VPR staff member).  

Success when overwintering rosemary involves three steps:

1. The right light! Throughout the winter, place your rosemary plant in the brightest room you've got or considering using a grow lamp.

A potted rosemary plant.
Credit Anna Ste. Marie, Courtesy
Anna Ste. Marie, Courtesy
Anna in South Hero wants to know how best to overwinter her rosemary plant, and if it can go back outdoors for the spring.

2. Chill out! Keep your plant in a cool room, around 60 degrees Farenheit. Think of how rosemary's preferred climate is the Mediterranean, where it tends to be cooler in winter.

3. Water less! Your rosemary plant's soil should stay fairly dry. In fact, you may be able to go weeks without watering it during the winter.

Follow these steps and you'll create a happy wintertime environment for your potted rosemary, and it will be ready to head back outside come spring.

A thin grey line.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums (and pictures!), and Charlie will answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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