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Leek Information

Leek

What is a Leek

The leek (allium porrum), a mild flavored member of the onion family, is a hardy biennial grown as an annual in the vegetable garden. However; unlike onions and shallots, leeks do not bulb, they are straight stalk plants. They are grown for their thick, juicy, mild flavored stems. The edible part being the lower stem.

The leek is known as the gourmet's onion because of their mild flavorIf left in the garden, and if they survive winter weather, they will flower in year two and go to seed, as does parsley.

The top growth of leeks (the leaves), called the flag, are thick and strap like and are colored green to dark blue-green. The top growth does not die back as the plant matures.

Leeks contain the following vitamins and minerals:

Vitamins – Vitamin A, Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic acid (B5), Vitamin B6, Folate (B9), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K

Minerals – Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium

Leeks can require a long growing season—up to 170 days. They grow best in cool, mild weather.

They require little to no attention and are generally pest-free. In the kitchen, they can be substituted for onions. Leeks can be chopped and frozen for later use.

Types of Leeks

There are two types of leeks: short-season (non-hardy)and long-season (hardy).

Short-season leeks, also known as summer leeks, have thin stems. They mature in about 60 – 90 days and are harvested during the summer and early fall. They can be harvested and used like scallions when young. Summer leeks are not winter hardy and do not store as well as long-season leeks. Good varieties of summer leeks are:

Alto Leek early summer – High Mowing Seeds
King Richard Leek – High Mowing Seeds
Chinook Leek – Territorial Seed Company

Long-season leeks, also known as winter leeks, have thick, cylindrical stems. They take about 100 – 170 days to reach harvest. Long-season leeks are harvested late summer through the winter. They store well either inground or in cold damp sand. Good varieties of winter leeks are:

Bandit Leek – High Mowing Seeds
Tadorna Leek – High Mowing Seeds
American Flag – Ferry Morse

Where to plant

First, if you can, you should rotate the location of where you grow your vegetables – and that also includes leeks.  Try to move them to a new bed to avoid sections where they, onions or garlic have grown in the past year. This helps avoid the pests and diseases that can cause problems or ruin the crop.

Leeks like full sun, however, they do tolerate partial shade. Plant in well-drained soil rich organic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8.

When to plant

Winter leeks take up to four (4) months to mature, if you live above zone 7, you should sow your winter leek seeds indoors in early spring. Start the seeds indoors about 2 – 3 months before the last expected spring frost – check the Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Transplant seedlings into the garden as early as 1 to 2 weeks before the last expected spring frost. Leeks should be in the garden no later than early summer for autumn harvest.  They will survive light frosts even when young — and heavy frosts in the fall.

If you live in planting zone 7 and warmer, you can plant winter leeks directly into the garden about the time of the last expected spring frost.

Summer leeks can be sown directly into the garden about the time of last spring frost dates.

Unused seeds can be kept up to 3 years.


How to Plant

First, mark your rows and remove the top 6 inches of soil in each row to create trenches. Space leek transplants 6 inches apart when planting. They grow best in temperatures between 55° and 75°F. Growth will be slowed by hot weather. Planting beds should have well-aged manure and compost.

Sow leek seeds ½ inch deep. They typically germinate in 10 to 14 days at 70°. When the seedlings reach about 8 inches, thin to 4 to 6 inches apart. Rows should be spaced 12 to 16 inches apart. Stagger the plants in each row so they are not uniform, this will allow the plants more room to grow.

As the plants grow you will need to use the removed soil to back-fill around the stems (you may fill in 2 -4 times during the growing season). This will blanch the lower stems that get covered. Blanched stems will be white and tender.

Plant Care

If you start your leeks indoors keep the tops trimmed  to about 4 inches tall to encourage stocky stem growth. When the weather is good, transplant into the garden.

Keep the soil around leeks evenly moist; water when the surface becomes just dry. Feed plants with compost tea or worm tea every four weeks during the growing season. If using normal fertilizing methods, you should spread 5-10-5 fertilizer every 3 to 4 weeks at a rate of 5 ounces of fertilizer per 10 feet of row.

Soil that tumbles into leaf folds can wind up trapped between skin layers in the stem. To keep this from happening you can slip a section of paper tube, such as from toilet tissue or paper towels, over the plants while they are still young as early as planting time. The tube will rot over the growing season but will help prevent soil from getting into leaf bases during early growth.

The closer together you plant leeks, the smaller they will be. Commercial growers usually place them about 6-8″ apart and don’t thin them. A good technique for home gardeners is to plant them just 2-3″ apart and achieve proper spacing by harvesting leeks as you need them. These young leeks are a good substitute for green onions in the kitchen.

After planting, mulch the bed with straw (I hate Straw) or other organic material (try shredded paper) to help soil retain moisture. Water plants as needed until they are established. Plants require an inch of water a week, either through rainfall or irrigation. Inconsistent moisture may cause tough stems.

Pests

On young plants, slugs can be devastating. Gather them at night, set traps, or use biological control.

Diseases

If there is a lot of rain in winter or early spring, leaf rot can set in. Rot shows as white spots on leaf tips that eventually shrivel. At this point there is not much you can do except pull the rotted plants and thin the planting to increase air circulation.



In summer orange pustules on leaves indicate leek rust, which is worse in wet growing seasons. Remove affected foliage; later maturing foliage will be healthy

Harvesting

You can pull leeks any time. Typically, you want them at least 1 inch or larger in diameter, but you can dig young ones to eat like green onions / scallions. Leeks have large root systems so use a hand fork or garden fork to loosen the soil before lifting the plants. A 10-foot row can yield up to 15 to 20 mature plants.

In colder areas, extend the harvest season by mulching deeply around plants (up to 1 foot deep). You can continue harvesting leeks but when a hard freeze is expected dig them up.

In zones 7 and warmer, you should be able to harvest leeks all winter long.

Storing

Initially, when harvesting leeks, shake and brush off as much soil as possible then rinse the plant thoroughly. To freeze leeks, wash, slice, and blanch for 1 minute in boiling water. Drain, drip dry, and toss into plastic freezer bags.

Store leeks wrapped in a damp paper towel in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days. Smaller leeks store better than larger leeks. Trim the roots and wash the leaves and stem before refrigerating.

For longer storage in coldest zones, dig leeks with roots attached. Cut leaves back until just an inch of green remains on each leaf. Place stems in a box (root side down) and pack with sawdust, clean sand, or vermiculite. Keep the packing moist and store in a cool place. Stems will keep up to 8 weeks

Frost Date Maps

Frost Date Maps

These Frost Date Maps Derived from the 1981–2010 U.S. Climate Normals—30-year averages of climatological variables like temperatures—these maps show the time of year, on average, that areas across the nation can expect to see their temperatures dip to 32°F or below for the last time. The map reveals some interesting regional differences across the country. In the East, the last spring freeze date generally progresses through time as you move northward on the map. However, in the West, the changes are much more complex due to elevation and coastal influences.Frost Date Maps

Wondering what happened to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico? The unique climates of these regions pose a problem in calculating the average date of the last spring freeze. Nearly all of Alaska falls into the “too cold to compute” category, meaning that the state is likely to see freezing temperatures year-round. At the opposite end of the spectrum, all of Puerto Rico and all but the highest elevations of the state of Hawaii fall into the “too warm to compute” category, meaning that they very rarely or never see freezing temperatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information – go to National weather Service

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Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Plant Hardiness Zone Map

The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location, click here for the interactive map . The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.

The USDA system was originally developed to aid gardeners and landscapers in the United States.

Plant Hardiness Zone Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The map is available as an interactive GIS-based map, for which a  for broadband Internet connection is recommended, and as static images for those with slower Internet access. Users may also simply type in a ZIP Code and find the hardiness zone for that area.

If you want an accurate map to not only provide general band guidelines for the USA but can also be so detailed that your town, down to the zip code, is reported on. The hardiness scales do not take into account the reliability of snow cover. Snow acts as an insulator against extreme cold, protecting the root system of hibernating plants.

The zones do not incorporate any information about summer temperature, thus sites which may have the same mean winter minima, but markedly different summer temperatures, will be accorded the same hardiness zone.

As the USDA system is based entirely on average annual extreme minimum temperature in an area, it is limited in its ability to describe the climatic conditions a gardener may have to account for in a particular area: there are many other factors that determine whether or not a given plant can survive in a given zone.

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White Baneberry Facts and Information

White Baneberry Facts and Information

General Information

White baneberry (Actaea pachypoda), also known as dolls eyes white cohosh, white-beads, white beads and toadroot is a native wildflower to the western hemisphere. It is a perennial member of white baneberry is sometimes called Dolls Eyes because the shiny white fruits resemble the china eyes once used in dollsthe buttercup family growing in eastern North America. The plant flowers from May to June with white berries following that ripen over the summer. The berries will stay on the plant until frost. Many people use white baneberry in landscaping taking the plant from woodlands. In many cases this is illegal and in several states such as New York and Florida, the actions have led to the plant being listed as exploitably vulnerable and endangered respectively. Taking seeds and planting them in domestic landscape may take two years to germinate and adversely affect the natural environment. If you find white baneberry interesting and wish to include it in your landscaping, please contact a stocking nursery – if they do not have in stock, they can special order.

Description

White baneberry grows to about 18 inches to 2 feet tall and can spread from 2 feet to 3 feet wide. Its leThe roots and berries of white baneberry are the most poisonous parts of baneberryaves are toothed at the edges and are also compound. They are roughly 16 inches long and 12 inches wide. The leaves grow alternately on the stem – this means one leaf comes out at a time on the stem.

The flowers are small – maybe ¼ to ½ inch and are colored white and grow on the end of a stalk. As referenced earlier, the flowers bloom from May to June. The picture of the white baneberry flower comes from USDA plant database.

What is so interesting about this plant are the berries and the way they sit on the plant. They look almost alien. One of its nicknames, dolls eyes is spot on. The berries are not really that big, ½ inch or so in diameter, all white with a black stigma scar.

Habitat

White baneberry thrive in moist, fertile soil with lots of organic white baneberry range mapmatter in partial to full shade. White baneberry is an upland plant and almost never occurs in wetlands. The picture of the plant with berries was taken in the Southern Adirondacks in a deciduous forest border facing south above a small lake.

Range A range map indicates, white baneberry grows North into Ontario Canada and east to Nova Scotia. It grows as far south as Florida and west out to Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Edible

Although I have read that certain birds dowhite baneberry leaves are toothed at the edges and are also compound eat the berries, the entire plant, just like Climbing Nightshade, is poisonous including the leaves, stalk, and especially the berries. If eaten, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, cramps, mouth blisters, confusion, and headache. The plant’s poison also has cardiogenic properties and can cause cardiac arrest (heart attack) in in children and immune compromised adults. This is a plant best admired for its beauty and left alone.

Partridgeberry

Partridgeberry Facts and Information

Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) also known as twinberry is a low growing perennial woodland plant of the eastern United States. It is in fact an evergreen non-climbing vine, no taller than 6 ½ inches with Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) also known as twinberrycreeping stems 16 inches long. It blooms from late spring to mid-summer and sets berries that typically turn red when mature. Partridgeberry is highly ornamental and is used in gardens and landscaping. It is easy to find on online nursery shops. It grows typically by its spreading vines setting roots. The seeds will sprout, but only after a period of dormancy, called stratification.

The berries are a food source for many native animals – deer, birds, small mammals, etc. Native Americans made partridgeberry leaf tea as well as using the berries medicinally and for food.

Description

As noted above, Partridgeberry is a low trailing evergreen vining plant. Its flowers are fuzzy white, each having four petals, and as the picture indicates, grow in pairs. What is interesting is that the flower pairs generally create one red berry. Partridgeberry is a low trailing evergreen vining plant.

The stems are mostly light green to light brown and either glabrous or hairy; old stems become brown, smooth, and woody.

As the first picture indicates, pairs of opposite leaves occur along the stems and are ½ inch to 2 inches long and similarly across; they are oval in shape and smooth to slightly undulate along their margins. The upper leaf surface is shiny, and usually dark green. The glossy green leaves are small and broad with a conspicuous white midvein.

Habitat

Partridgeberry grows in both dry and moist wooded areas. The upper most picture was taken streamside in a mature deciduous Adirondack forest. Habitats include rocky woodlands, sandy savannas, slopes of wooded sand dunes, sandstone ledges along ravines, mossy boulders in wooded ravines as well as edges of swamps and bogs.

Range

This plant has a territory somewhat similar to mayapple and is found across a wide area of eastern North America. Partridgeberry is found from south Eastern Canada south to Florida and Texas all the way to Central America into to Guatemala.

Edible

Both leaves and berries are edible. Leaves are typically made into a tea.

The berries can be eaten raw, dried and cooked. They are basically bland tasting. The berries can be mixed with other forest berries. They are reported to be high in vitamin C, tannin, anthocyanins and antioxidants

Pickerelweed Facts

Pickerelweed Facts Basic Information

classic picture of pickerelweed in habitat
classic picture of pickerelweed in habitat

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) also called pickerel weed, tuckahoe, black potato, wampee or wampi is an aquaticplant native to the Americas (both North and South). It is perennial plant that can grow from either seeds or rhizomes. Pickerelweed forms large colonies along shallow shorelines, usually growing from its spreading rhizomes. The seed of the plant needs a period of cold dormancy, called stratification, for about 2 months before it will sprout a seedling. In temperate zones the growth dies back in late fall only to emerge again in Spring when weather is favorable.

Pickerelweed is important for wildlife. Deer are fond of it, as are muskrats and ducks. It also has its own bee for pollination!!

Description

As named, pickerel weed is an aquatic plant. It is a rather large plant,
reaching up to 4 feet tall. The leaves and stems of the plant are green and somewhat waxy in appearance. They develop at the ends pickerelweed is an aquatic plantof stems and are highly variable in shape and size. Leaf shape ranges from an oval to almost lance shaped. Leaf sizes are also variable, ranging from as small as 2 inches to as much as 10 inches long and from less than an inch up-to 6 inches wide. Leaf veins run parallel in the leaf and are never “net-like”.

The small flowers are violet-blue in color and bloom in summer. They are small and cluster around a stalk-like stem (see picture). The flowers are the key to really identifying the plant.

Habitat

Just like water lily, pickerelweed grows in a variety of wetlands including pond and lake margins and the edge of a slow moving streams. It prefers shallow water, a foot or so deep. Pickerelweed does not do well in salt water, so you will never find pickerelweed growing in salt marshes.

Range

Pickerelweed has an extremely large range, its northern most
reach is eastern Canada as far north as Nova Scotia, west to Minnesota and south to Florida and Texas. It is found as far south as Argentina in South America.

Edible

The seeds are edible, when dried, roasted and ground they make a good flour for bread. They can also be eaten raw, cooked even boiled like rice or roasted like nuts. Young unfurled leaves can be eaten raw or boiled and eaten. Stalks are edible as well and are prepared just like leaves. Please make sure the water you take the plant from is clean and unpolluted.