Take a leek and bake a cake

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents -

Ilove leeks be­cause they are so much more gen­tle on my sys­tem than their rel­a­tives, gar­lic and onions, al­most as if they be­long to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent fam­ily re­ally (as far as my stom­ach is con­cerned any­way).

If you want to know what I mean, try mak­ing leek and potato soup with onion in­stead: not the same dif­fer­ence. This is cur­rently one of Theo’s new 12-year-old catch­phrases, and con­sid­er­ing that he is the one who in­sists on mak­ing it (with leeks, Mum) as soon as the weather starts to get rainy and cold, I think he knows that they are def­i­nitely not the same.

I’ve prob­a­bly cho­sen too strong a word when I say I hate leeks. After all, we can’t all be fab­u­lously green-fin­gered, turn­ing out leeks with an av­er­age di­am­e­ter of two inches and so long that, from a dis­tance, it ap­pears to watch­ers that one is car­ry­ing a small tree in­stead of a leek.

My Mum grew leeks like that but sadly I didn’t in­herit her leek-grow­ing genes. I have re­signed my­self to be­ing an ex­cel­lent salad greens, herb, rhubarb, cel­ery and sil­ver­beet grower with the oc­ca­sional suc­cess with broc­coli. It’s a good thing that I am a keen for­ager and re­cip­i­ent of gar­den pro­duce gen­er­ously shared by my neigh­bours, oth­er­wise I might not even be able to pluck up the courage to start writ­ing about leeks.

Now this is not to say we haven’t tried our best, sev­eral times. They are a bit like car­rots for me. Peo­ple say 'ah, just chuck ‘em in the ground and leave them alone'. Nope, not for me. So far it’s been a few or no car­rots, and very small leeks and given the qual­ity and amount of com­post I put into my gar­den, I know it’s not a nu­tri­ent prob­lem.

I have even tried the broom­stick method with­out suc­cess. This is where you poke a broom­stick-like ob­ject into the ground and drop young leek plants in. No tamp­ing down the soil or fill­ing in the hole: just walk away and let the leek get on with fill­ing the hole, and sup­pos­edly ex­pand­ing. Sure enough, my leeks grew but they never quite got the ex­pan­sion bit and although I har­vested them and we ate them – lit­tle pen­cils that they were – and tried to be suit­ably proud of my small achieve­ment, I couldn’t help com­par­ing my puny lit­tle fel­lows with the green­gro­cer's gi­ants.

I won’t give up though. There’s a wicked brew bub­bling away out the back, con­tain­ing all the usual sus­pects: fish heads, sea­weed, net­tles and com­frey with a good smat­ter­ing of sheep pel­lets stirred in and this will feed my next lot of leeks.

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