How to Harvest and Store Leeks

Leeks at harvest 1

Sharing is caring!

Harvest leeks when they are big enough to use. Most leeks mature 100 to 120 days after sowing seed, but a few varieties mature in as few as 60 days.

Some varieties mature at ½ to ¾ inches in diameter; others can grow to 1 inch (2.5 cm) or more in diameter.

Related articles:

Leeks in garden
Leeks growing toward harvest

When to harvest leeks

  • A leek is ready for harvest when its white stem or shaft is 3 inches (7 cm) long or greater.
  • Harvest leeks before they start to widen too much at the base; don’t allow leeks to form bulbs.
  • The top growth of a leek—called the flag—should be dark blue-green at harvest. Unlike onions and shallots, leek tops do not die back as the plant matures.
  • Leeks can be harvested from late summer to early spring depending upon the variety and climate. In milder winter climates, leeks can be overwintered in the garden for spring harvest.
  • Some varieties such as ‘Winter Giant’ and ‘Tadorna Blue’ are bred for overwintering. Temperatures as low as 20°F (-6°C) will not harm these varieties. If you leave leeks in the ground for winter harvest, hill up the soil around the plants and cover them with a heavy layer of mulch until you need them.
  • Non-hardy leeks ready in 60 to 90 days will be milder flavored than long-growing, hardy varieties. Harvest non-hardy varieties in the summer and fall before the first frost.

Kitchen Helpers from Amazon:

Leeks harvested
A leek is ready for harvest when its white stem or shaft is 3 inches long or greater.

How to harvest leeks

  • Digging leeks is easier than pulling. Leeks have a large root system.
  • Use a hand fork or garden fork to loosen the soil before lifting leeks.
  • Where the soil is loose, you can harvest leeks by hand by gently twisting and pulling them from the soil.
Leeks in kitchen
Leeks will keep in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days.

How to store leeks

  • Give harvested leeks a shake and brush off as much soil as possible then rinse the plant thoroughly.
  • Leeks are the most flavorful used fresh.
  • Store leeks wrapped in a damp paper towel in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days. Smaller leeks store better than larger leeks. Trim the roots and wash the leaves and stem before refrigerating.
  • Leeks store best at 32°F (0°C) and 95 to 100 percent relative humidity. Yellowing and decay develop rapidly at warmer storage temperatures. The high relative humidity is essential to prevent wilting.
  • Trim the leaves and slice leeks in half lengthwise immediately before use and rinse out any remaining soil that is often caught between the tight leaves.

Leeks articles on Harvest to Table:

How to Plant and Grow Leeks

Leeks Seed Starting Tips

How to Harvest and Store Leeks

Six Ways to Cook and Serve Leeks

Potato-Leek Soup Simply Made

Onion Family Growing Problems Troubleshooting

Garden Planning Books at Amazon:

More harvest tips:

Learn when and how to harvest your favorite vegetables for the best flavor and texture. Get storage tips for each crop. Click on the vegetable you are growing below.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

How To Grow Tips

How To Grow Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes

Cool weather crops

Vegetable Garden Soil pH

Mulching tomatoes

Vegetable Garden Mulching