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If you want that very welcome leek crop in mid-winter, you have to start thinking about them early on in the spring growing season. They're such a long time in the ground. Well, I got mine in on time but I've been neglecting them ever since. Next door's chickens paid a visit and damaged some patches of leek seedlings so I threw in some optimistic late sowings to fill in the gaps. Later some thinning was required but I left it rather late.

The result is a row of leeks which range from OK to severely undersized (some less than 0.5cm, many less than 1cm). Is it too late (mid-August) now for these feeble looking plants to swell up in time for a winter crop?

And when exactly do leeks slow down and stop swelling? At what point later on this year should I stop looking for progress and just be happy what I've got?

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    "Mancuniensis" answer is a good one, but also be aware leeks (especially the ones you sowed later in the season) can be overwintered & harvested in the Spring. – Mike Perry Aug 15 '11 at 2:30
  • Yes, there's a lot to be said for a 'winter pantry'- I usually go on harvesting mine until about mid-March. Unfortunately, last year the soil was frozen solid for several weeks and, as a result, many became soft and inedible. – Mancuniensis Aug 15 '11 at 15:00
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I've had a similar problem with my leeks this year. I sowed them on time but, soon after they germinated, went away on holiday for three weeks and on my return found that they were smothered in weeds. I hand-weeded the plot promptly and later transplanted all 120 (backbreaking!), but they are still very puny - about the same size as yours.

Leeks require about 90 days from thinning/ transplanting to maturity, so if we have a mild autumn and you enriched your soil before planting, your leeks (and mine) should have ample time to swell up before they're lifted. If I'm not mistaken, you live in the south of England, where it's warmer, so yours will probably catch up better than mine ;)

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