Sunday, 17 February 2008

Lovely leeks

Leeks: you can't really beat them, can you? Here is last year's crop, covered in a tasteful dusting of snow and none the worse for that: it takes more than a light outbreak of winter to put leeks off their game. Along with broad beans and purple sprouting broccoli they are one of my favourite vegetables, and all the more lovable for the fact that they are one of the few things available to eat from the allotment at this time of year.
That, though, is the very reason I am feeling rather guilty at the moment. The leeks in the picture are Musselburgh, one of the most popular leek varieties, and for the last couple of years they have stood the Low family in pretty good stead. Productive, reliable and tasty, they are pretty much without fault.
So why have I betrayed them?
I bought my seeds for the year the other day, from the rather wonderful Real Seed catalogue; but instead of sticking to the leeks which have performed so well for the last two years, I was seduced by some fancy French variety. Bleu de Solaise, they are called, and according to the Real Seed people they are long, with blue grey leaves, and very hardy. In a comparative trial with Musselburgh, they were noticeably more vigorous, growing faster and bigger. They sound great.
But frankly, why bother? The old ones were more than good enough, so why change? The fact is, I am just a bit of an old tart. Like many gardeners, I cannot help wondering whether there isn't some variety out there which is better than the one I am growing already. It is a perpetual fascination with the new and the untried, a classic case of the grass always being greener on the other side. Or in the case, the leeks. And not exactly greener, more like bluer.
Anyway, one cannot just grow the same thing every year - that would be boring. All the same, I cannot help feeling mildly guilty, as though I had let down a trusted friend. Sorry, leeks.


Pepette said...

I have just recently discovered your blog via Jane from Horticultural.
Your post really made me smile as I have been feeling exactly the same way! I too have decided to try Blue de Solaise this year. But I've been feeling so guilty about abandoning my trusted Musselburgh that I have decided to grow both!

Valentine Low said...

That's brilliant! Glad to know I am not alone. I look forward to hearing your comparative tasting notes...