A superb all-rounder for reliability, hardiness and flavour, this heritage variety was first cultivated by Victorian gardeners in the Scottish town of Musselburgh after being brought over from France in the 1830s. Since then it has become a firm favourite all around the UK, particularly in colder regions where other vegetables may not thrive – great for picking from late autumn to early spring when little else is available to bring in from the plot to the plate. A shorter variety of leek, it has densely packed, sturdy stems with creamy white bases rising to dark green leaves at the top.
You won’t find Musselburgh leeks in the supermarket as their growing span is too long commercial production, but this variety will reward the home gardener many times over with plentiful crops of superb quality. These leeks are easy to grow, with good resistance to pests and extremes of heat and cold. They can be left in the ground until needed, although once picked they will keep for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. Musselburgh is a great choice for allotments, where the plants will happily fend for themselves right through winter, requiring little attention over a long season.
Whether picked early or left to mature, this versatile veg has a lovely sweet flavour and a firm but tender texture when cooked. Use young baby stems in salads and stir-fries and mature leeks for a great variety of dishes including soups, stews and quiches – and indeed in any dish where you would normally use onion. Having a ready supply of garden-fresh leeks will benefit your health as well as your palate – they are packed with nutrients, including vitamins A, B6, C and K, iron and magnesium, as well as being a good source of fibre and folate.
The seeds can be planted directly into their cropping position or started indoors for establishing early – providing baby leeks from as early as late summer. They germinate easily and establish well, with minimum maintenance required. Their compact habit makes them a great choice for small gardens where space is a premium. Choose a sunny, sheltered position, with fertile, well-drained soil. They can make an unusual feature in an herbaceous border, with attractive flowers and seed heads if left to grow.
Supplied as a packet of 500 (approx.) seeds ready for sowing indoors from January to February, or outdoors from March to April directly into a seed bed. Harvest from October to March, or even earlier for baby leeks. Grows to 45cm (18in) by 30cm (12in) spread.
Supplied as a packet of 500 (approx.) seeds ready to sow indoors or outdoors.
Performance subject to growing conditions.
How to grow Musselburgh leeks
Harvest October to March, or earlier for baby leeks as required.