Stress! and troublesome teen leeks

What is it with leeks and stress?!

A few days without water, and then a change in the weather from hot to cool, from wet to dry, and they get all panicked. I’ve been religiously watering my leeks since I planted them out early in the spring but then had a 5 day stint when I couldn’t. Then we had a couple of cool, overcast days followed by humid warm ones. Rather than hang on patiently, they’ve got their leaves all in a twist and sent up a flower stalk (they’ve “bolted“, in garden terms) in a desperate stampede of survival. It’s all “now, now, now!” That’s pretty much 50% of them (and counting) that won’t come to anything.

If they think they’ve escaped the pot, then they’ve got another thing coming. I’ve pulled the young offenders out. They won’t be any better off left hanging about getting lanky and tough and I don’t want any copy-cat attempts at procreation (I don’t know if flowering leeks set the others off, but they’re so bloomin’ sensitive, I wouldn’t put it past them). I shall be chopping them up later, after I’ve hung, drawn and quartered them to remove the flower stalk down to the roots… that bit is not nice to eat, but the rest is if caught early.

Onions are the same. Can be good as gold, then they throw their futures all in the air. It’s enough to make you cry.

Which is why I’ve been focusing my onion efforts on spring onions this year. Quick to mature, less opportunity to misbehave, they play nicely with other summer veg in recipes, they give a satisfactory onion hit without all the temperamental drama. A few seeds every couple of weeks and there’s enough onionyness to keep going through to late autumn.

Winter dishes, of course, need a proper onion or two for those rich, deep and complex flavoured stews, soups, stocks and roasts… I’ll miss not growing my own this year but we just won’t think about that for now. You know onions. You can’t live with them, you can’t live without them.

But I’ll see if anyone’s selling some baby leeks I can transplant. There might still be just enough time to take re-sits.

And as for the rest, if they do bolt, I might just let them go ahead and flower. It’s not worth getting stressed about it.

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