How to Grow Leeks in Paperpots (Paper Chain Pots)
Growing Leeks in Paperpots
No hand transplanting!
Less transplant shock!
Tired of dibbling deep holes and hand transplanting each individual leek? Try growing them in paper chain pots and putting them in the ground with the Paperpot Transpalnter instead! Save time, and save your back!
Leeks are a popular crop on market farms.
The most common approach on a biointensive farm is to sow them by hand in trays, and then to hand transplant each delicate seedling into 6-9″ holes in the bed. The depth is crucial in order to blanch the stalks of the leeks.
Transplanting leeks is both time and labor-intensive.
The Paperpot Transplanter solves this problem.
It allows you to skip the step of dibbling 9″ holes in the entire bed, and saves you from working on your hands and knees dropping individual leeks into each hole.
Producing leeks in the Paperpot system takes the approach of creating shallow 4″ trenches for the rows, then pulling the transplanter through to plant your leeks in the bottom of those trenches, then hilling the leeks as they grow to gain an even bigger blanched portion of the stalk. All of which can be done in the upright position!
The Specifications for Paperpot Leeks
|PAPER CHAIN POT||6"|
|ROWS PER 100’ X 30” BED||2|
|TRAYS PER 100’ X 30” BED||2|
|KWIK KLIK™ TOP PLATE||Plate: Paperpot (264 holes) / Thickness: 1.5mm / Hole Diameter: 2.5mm|
|SEEDS PER CELL||1|
|SEED PER 100’ X 30" BED||380 seeds *always round up when placing seed order to ensure having enough|
|GERMINATION||72 hours at 80°F|
|DAYS TO TRANSPLANT||55 days (+/-) *time from seeding to transplanting in the field|
|DAYS TO MATURITY||180 days (+/-) *time from seeding to being ready for harvest|
|HARVEST WINDOW||21 days (+/-) *time crop is at ideal stage for harvest after reaching maturity|
|TOTAL DAYS IN FIELD||146 days (+/-) *DTM + harvest window - days to transplant|
|HARVEST UNIT||1 Leek|
|TARGET CROP YIELD||380|
|PRICE PER UNIT||$1.50 *depending on local market pricing|
|REVENUE PER BED||$570 *depending on local market pricing|
|SEEDING||Kwik Klik™ Drop Seeder, Paperpot Germination Trays, Paper Chain Pots|
|TILTHING||Power Harrow or Precision Depth Roller (With no tractor: Tither)|
|AERATION||Meadow Creature Broadfork|
|SHAPING||Wheel Hoe with Furrower, Bed Preparation Rake|
|WEED CONTROL||Flame Weeder|
Suggested Tools for Paperpot Leeks
Bed Preparation for Paperpot Transplanting
- Broadfork the bed to aerate and loosen the soil.
- Smooth and shape the bed with a bed preparation rake, removing any debris.
- If the previous crop was fertilized, Leeks will do fine without reapplication.
- If not, here are two options:
- 1) Layer on 1” of compost, enough to mostly cover the native soil.
- 2) Sprinkle on a combination of alfalfa meal and pelleted chicken manure.
- If layering compost, do not tilth in hopes of smothering any surface weed seed.
- If adding amendments, tilth the top 1-2” of soil to mix in amendments.
- Irrigate for 10-14 days*, allowing any weed seed in the top layer of soil to germinate.
- Flame weed the bed when the cotyledons of the weed seeds have emerged.
Planting Leeks in Paperpots
Seeding Leeks in Paperpots
Prepare trays with 6” paper chain pots, and fill with potting mix.
Install Paperpot bottom plate and specified top plate into Kwik Klik™ (KK) Drop Seeder.
Pour seed onto top plate and rotate until 1 seed fills each hole.
Position the KK Drop Seeder over the tray, ensuring the holes are lined up with the cells, and click to drop the seeds.
Water the trays, then place in germination chamber for 72 hours at 80°F.
Transfer the trays to greenhouse tables immediately after germination.
Apply an organic liquid fertilizer and trim the tops of the leeks two times during their stay in the nursery. This will support strong root development.
Leeks are ready for transplanting at about 8 weeks old and 10” tall (+/-).
Thoroughly water trays before heading to the field for transplanting.
Using a wheel hoe with a furrower, create two 4” deep furrows the length of the bed.
There should be 15” between the two rows, and 7.5” from the outer rows to the edge of the bed.
Using the Paperpot Transplanter, plant two rows of leeks into the furrows.
Backfill the furrows when finished, returning to ground level.
Reference https://paperpot.co/learn/ for instructional videos if needed.
Transplanting Leeks with the Paperpot Transplanter
Water the beds thoroughly with overhead irrigation.
Frequent shallow waterings will support rapid growth and root development.
10-14 days after transplanting, begin hilling the rows to continue burying more of the plant. This will create more blanching, increasing its value for market.
Hilling will also naturally disrupt weed establishment. After another 4” (+/-) is eventually hilled above ground level, weekly cultivate using a collinear hoe.
Consistent weeding and cultivation is crucial for leeks as they will not form a canopy over the soil as they mature, unlike other closely spaced crops.
Loosen the soil with a broadfork or digging fork prior to harvesting the leeks.
While harvesting, peel off one thin layer of the leek and remove any damaged leaves.
The tops can also be trimmed so all leeks are uniform in size and able to fit in a harvest tote.
Using the Washdown Gun sprayer over a root wash table, spray clean the leeks until all soil is thoroughly cleaned off.
Transfer the leeks to totes, and store at 35° until taken to market.
Washing and Packing
Overall Paper Chain Pots are a great way to increase efficiency for growing Leeks.
Ease of transplanting, less bed prep, and less time on your hands and knees are just some of the reasons why growing leeks in paper chain pots makes so much sense.
Get started growing leeks on your farm using a Paperpot Transplanter and download the Growers Notes below.