How to Grow Leeks, Onions, and Green Onions

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Houston nearly has a year long growing season, and late spring is when we can begin to harvest some alliums

Do your home grown vegetables look like their grocery store counterparts? This idea came up in conversation again. Part of the reason is the we grow different varieties; we may not be growing vegetables under optimal conditions; and we may just be harvesting early. I have a great selection of vegetables to choose for meals, but the group that turns my daughter away from the plate is the alliums: onions and leeks in this case.  Even though Katya expresses her distaste for onions, she will eat them when she knows that they are from our garden. I have been harvesting a few young alliums this week, which has made me happy.

    I am not sure that the flavor is that much better when considering onions and leeks. Many vegetables picked moments before use do have a better flavor in  my mind. With alliums, I am not sure. One advantage of growing your own onions is you can use the leaves. Onions are fairly cheap in the stores, yet they are so easy to grow. I like using the onion tops, which could be included like the green onions. Currently my onions are the size of small onions that you would find in the store, about three inches in diameter. The biggest of the leeks are a little over a half inch in diameter. I pile the mulch up around my leeks, which gives me a larger white section. Leek greens are good for flavoring broths, like a bay leaf, but they do become a bit tough (young leeks do not have such tough green sections though).
    Green onions are better from the home garden. You can stick your grocery store green onions in the ground, and they will grow. They become thicker, and there is a freshness in the flavor. If you buy onion sets, you stick them in the ground too. Covering both of these onions with mulch helps them. Leeks are not sold in sets, so you start them from seed in a pot. Once the leeks are large enough, you separate them and plant them in the garden. This applies to all alliums, and you start them in early winter or indoors during the winter. I have found that these plants have not needed much watering, which is good with our drought conditions.
    Since these alliums are growing their roots in one spot, you can plant with another vegetable that has thinner roots that spread out. In my onion bed, I am growing strawberry plants. In my leek bed, there are peppers. With my green onions, I have a bush bean. This intensive planting method works, since the roots act differently, but also the above ground portions of the plants are not competing. A benefit from this method is that the other plants act like a mulch for my onions. One requirement that seems to help alliums grow well is the soil. I found that a soil that drains well helps the allium grow better.
    If your child has an issue with onions, try serving a leek. Leeks do have a different flavor from onions, as well as a different texture. I had added my sliced leeks to a roast chicken (which also included soy sauce, sesame seed oil, oranges, and garlic). No one picked out the leeks. I had also used a green onion. Katya went straight to removing the green leaves of this onion, but she was fine with the white parts of that onion. I do not see leeks used too often in meals at restaurants, and I do not see too many people pick up leeks at the store. Yet leeks will expand your flavor palate, so maybe growing them will be a good option for home gardeners.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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