Let me start with a recipe of “Leek and scrambled egg on toast” for which you will need 3 eggs (gently beaten), a big dollop of fresh cream, a little butter and of course a fresh hydroponically grown Leek with all the sweetness of the fresh vegetable entrapped.
- Fry the thinly sliced leek in butter until soft, don’t caramelise
- Add egg mixture and stir gently until some of the egg mixture starts to solidify then add the generous dollop of cream and stir until you have a lump free soft creamy consistency. Serve on toast for you and your bride.
Now that I have your interest, I would like to explain how I have grown leek hydroponically
using a conventional Tray System. Unfortunately I was not able to get a larger diameter pipe stand as 40 mm seems to be the plumbing standard. Nevertheless I decided to prove the success or otherwise of this technique. The tube length I decided to be about 20 cm long which will give you a nice leek well blanched for that distance. The following photos will illustrate the concept which was started in March this year and the final photos were taken a week ago showing the progress during the winter months.
A number of seedlings of various sizes were taken and placed into the tubes, some of them barely reaching the top of the pipe. Nevertheless they all managed to grow. It would be possible to use shorter tubes at the initial growth stage and then replace them with longer ones. The tubes were cut at an angle of 45⁰ so that there was ample room for the roots to develop.
Tray systems were basically designed for low level green vegetable growth (Lettuce) or under overhead support systems like growing tomatoes and supporting them on string etc.
In a domestic environment where we want to grow all kinds of vegetables using trays, the difficulty has always been plant stability and recently Peter Signal developed a clever system of supporting Silver Beet using inset tubes as shown in the next photo, and the extension of this method made me look further to growing Leek which created stability and blanching at the same time.
I have heard that there are commercial operators growing the product hydroponically overseas, however I have had difficulty in obtaining details of such operations. Nevertheless the possibilities are great as the plant density can be extremely high, say 16 / sq. foot in the old language as a starting point.