Leek freak!

Leeks are an invaluable addition to the kitchen garden and a blinking beacon of bliss to bees.

Credit: Carol Pope

A beacon of bliss to bees

I love leeks. Delicious in soups and most savoury dishes, they are an invaluable addition to the kitchen garden. There’s nothing nicer than being able to dash out the backdoor and tug out just what you need from your veggie patch.  

But it gets even better: Leeks are also a picturesque backdrop in ornamental gardens, are quite deer resistant, make spectacular dried flowers, and are a blinking beacon of bliss to bees.

This year I decided to grow some extra leeks for a statuesque dried-flower arrangement for our family room. To do this, all I need to do is let the leeks flower and pluck them before they go to seed, hanging them upside-down until they are nicely dry.

However, this July when I went out to do just that, I didn’t have the heart to pick a single one.  Each and every leek flower was the nucleus of a frenzy of joyful pollination, the steady buzzing of the bees audible from across the yard.  In this woefully bee-diminished world, I felt that leaving the leeks right where they were was the respectful thing to do.

Now, I will routinely grow extra leeks to serve as a welcoming beacon to bees. While there are few things as gratifying as a garden that dishes up delicacies, the satisfaction multiplies when it gives back to our hardworking pollinators.

For more on growing leeks, check out page 12 of our Fall issue of GardenWise magazine.

And here’s an important planting tip:

For tender, white leeks like you see in the store, blanche them by planting in a 15 cm (6 in.) trench, topping up the soil as they grow.