Months ago I scattered small black seeds in a tray of compost (potting soil). Tiny, thin loops soon broke through the surface of the soil, turned green, and began to rise up. Next, one end of each loop freed itself from the dirt and slowly unbent. These baby leeks continued to grow, but very slowly. Maybe because I chucked in too many seeds in too close proximity to each other. Maybe because the sun never shone. Finally I decided not to wait any longer for larger, stronger seedlings. I took the tray to the allotment to plant them out.
The process for transplanting leeks is unique. First you make a fairly deep hole, then drop a leek seedling into it, and finally pour water carefully into the hole until it’s saturated. In this way, over time the hole fills with earth while the leek anchors itself deep in the soil.
To do this the ‘proper’ old-time allotment way you don’t use just any old stick to make the holes, as I used to do, but a tool designed specifically for this task: the dibber.
My dibber is old and came to me serendipitously. I didn’t set out to acquire one, but I’m glad I have it. Do you need a special, idiosyncratically-named tool to make holes? No, but using it makes me happy. As I drop leeks into those holes I’m following a process that generations of allotment gardeners have followed. Using a dibber connects me to that history and makes me feel a bit more like a ‘proper’ gardener.
But it’s still an open question whether we get to harvest any leeks worth eating this autumn!