Leeks are a hardy, perennial vegetable variety of the Alliaceae family that exhibit a mild flavour similar to that of an onion. These bulb vegetables grow in bunches and produce leafy, green stalks. Unlike its close relatives--onion and garlic--the leek is highly frost and pest resistant, easy to grow and comparably inexpensive. Leeks will grow in any climate as long as they are planted during periods of cool weather after the first frost.
The King Richard leek variety produces long, slender stems that maintain a sweet flavour upon harvesting. The stalks are tender and white, reach a maximum height of three feet and produce edible flowers. Plant King Richard leeks during June or July and allow 79 days for the vegetable to mature. King Richard leeks are best planted in sandy or clay soil in an area that receives a substantial amount of sunlight and moderate moisture.
Varna leeks grow best during late July and take about 80 days to fully ripen. This variety produces thick clumps of slender stalks that grow in bunches. Varna leeks grow rapidly and should be harvested during late summer or early fall, as they are not capable of withstanding winter weather.
Dawn giant leeks thrive during April or May and are best harvested during midsummer or early autumn. This variety produces blue-green leaves with a subtle onion-like flavour that can grow up to 15-inches tall and two-inches wide. Allow about 100 days for maturation before harvesting.
Albinstar baby leeks are a Dutch variety specifically produced for the baby leek market. This leek is extremely tender when harvested during the summer but can be left in the ground until fall for larger leeks. This white-stemmed, 1/2-inch wide variety produces characteristic dark green leaves with a sweet taste. Plant during March or April to harvest miniature leeks. Maturation is between 100 and 120 days.
Otina leeks are a French variety grown for their mild yet crisp flavour. Those with delicate palettes will enjoy the unique, mild flavour exhibited by this leek type. This variety is low maintenance and is capable of withstanding frost. Plant Otina during the late fall or December and harvest after about 120 days of growth.
American flag is a very hardy leek variety that may be left in the ground for an extended period of time as it is capable of withstanding winter temperatures in mild climate regions. This variety produces seven to nine inch stalks that taste similar to scallions. Dark green to blue-green stems surround white, edible interiors. Start growing American flag leeks about four weeks before the average time of the last frost in your region and harvest them within 130 days of planting.