Ancient vegetables: Leek of Cervere

Ancient vegetables: Leek of Cervere

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Production area and history

Piemonte region
Production area: Cervere (Cuneo).

In ancient Egypt, where it was consumed by slaves assigned to the construction of the pyramids. From here over the centuries it passes into the Greco-Roman area. Pliny describes the plant by calling it "porrum". In the Middle Ages, leek contributed together with a limited number of other plants to solve the food problem during the recurrent famines and pestilences that raged on the populations at the time. Today leek is known, cultivated and spread all over the world. The ancient tradition of leek cultivation in Cervere is testified both by the local variety, a mass selection of the "long winter leek" variety traditionally known and called "Cervere" and by the cultivation methods handed down from generation to generation. The Leek of Cervere represents more than two thirds of the production of leeks from all over Piedmont.

Cervere leek


The production of "Leek Cervere" is carried out starting from a seed that derives from a local massal selection, traditionally known and called "Cervere" of the "long leek in winter" variety. Long leek in winter is grown in different areas both in the north and south. It has a long foot and is harvested during the winter when other vegetables are scarce. It is pleasant and attractive in appearance. Since it can remain in the ground even during the cold months, the collection is done in a scaled way. In Cervere, production is linked to cultivation methods handed down from generation to generation, which are difficult to adapt to any type of mechanization and therefore retains a strong component of manual labor that hinders their large-scale production. Leek, planted in rows distant from about one meter from them, from September onwards, it is pressed by hand several times until it has a product with a white part that can even reach 60 centimeters in length. The distance of the seedlings from each other is directly proportional to the diameter of the stem to be obtained. The leek reaches maturity in late October and can be harvested throughout the winter season, it is generally marketed in bundles weighing 4 to 10 kg. With the green part cut off. The slightly calcareous component of the sandy soils in the flood areas of the Stura river, the humid climate of the area, the abundance of spring waters for irrigation and the particular light conditions, constitute that eco system which, combined with the particular system they make Cervere leek a unique product, with a thin, particularly tender stem, with a sweet taste that has nothing to do with garlic or onion of which it is a close relative. This product lends itself well to being cooked in the most varied ways, mainly using the white part of the stem. The 2010 production promises to be of quality, in Cervere the production is estimated at around 2,400 q. of product on a surface of 7 ha. about. The price on the markets for the 2009 production is between €. 1.50 and €. 1.60 per Kg. (Price refers to the product with leaves and roots) Considering that the particular cultivation method in use in Cervere (indispensable for obtaining a good quality production) as well as being largely based on the work manual also affects production which is lower than others, the price is still poorly paid.

Cervere leek

Cultivation technique

Leek, grown in the open field on large areas of land, must be considered a renewal crop such as corn and, consequently, must follow a grain such as wheat, barley, rye, oats. At the level of the family garden, leek can be grown on the land that hosted the potato, tomato, pepper, cucumber, courgette and lettuce the previous year. In order to avoid the development of cryptogamic diseases or various physiopathies and a poor and poor production, the crop must not be replenished, that is, it must not be repeated for a few years in the same soil. Fertilization Leek requires rational fertilization, which must be carried out using organic and mineral fertilizers. A production of 100 Kg. Of leeks, which is obtained with a surface of 35 - 40 m2., Absorbs and removes the following fertilizing elements from the ground: Nitrogen 335 g., Phosphorus pentoxide G. 200, Potassium oxide g. 400, calcium oxide g. 200, Magnesium oxide g. 100. Therefore on a soil with medium fertility, it is recommended to distribute the following fertilizers: before plowing or digging the soil well-matured bovine manure q. 130 - 150 per Piedmont day, equal to 350 - 400 kg per 100 m2; after plowing or before transplanting - complex fertilizer 12-6-18S + 2MG Kg. 250-270 per day equal to Kg. 6.5-7 Wed 100 m2; after transplanting, before tamping, calcium nitrate 15/16 kg. 50 per day equal to q. 1,200 per sq m. In acidic soils with a pH lower than 6, it is advisable to distribute 50 g. of hydrated lime per square meter. before tillage. Sowing and transplanting The optimal time of sowing and transplanting varies according to the harvesting period of the product. It is sown in January for harvest in the middle of summer; in March for the autumn - winter harvest; in the months of May - June for the harvest at the end of winter of the following year. Sowing in a seedbed under a heated greenhouse in January, under a normal greenhouse in the months of February - March, April outdoors in the months of May - June. An average of 750 seeds are contained in one gram. The germination of the seed lasts only two years and the birth of the seedlings takes place 15 - 20 days after sowing. The sowing depth must not exceed half a cm. Inside the greenhouse the temperature of the seedbed must be kept constant and the irrigations must be frequent but not too abundant. outdoor transplanting must be performed when the seedlings have reached a good root development. Practically for transplants to be carried out in May the diameter of the seedlings at the base of the root must be equal to 3 -3.5 mm .; for transplants to be carried out in June the diameter must reach 5 mm. and for the transplants of the month of July August it must be 6 - 7 mm. The transplant is carried out within 12 - 15 cm deep solchetti. and distant 35 - 40 cm. between them and with the plants arranged at 8-10 cm. from each other. The transplanting depth must not exceed 15 cm. Transplanting at an excessive depth significantly reduces the yield when harvested. A rational irrigation becomes indispensable immediately after the transplant. Cultivation practices After transplanting, repeated watering must be carried out to avoid stopping the vegetation. When the plant has reached a good development it is advisable to carry out some light weeding tending to eliminate the weeds and to break the soil crust. In order to stimulate the development of the seedlings after an irrigation, calcium nitrate is distributed and slightly pressed.


Depending on the time of sowing and transplanting, the harvest can be carried out in August for the sowing of January, in November for the sowing of March-April, in February, March and April for the sowing of May - June. In our province the most consistent harvesting takes place in the autumn. It should be remembered that whatever the time of sowing and transplanting, the harvest must be carried out six months after sowing. The average unit production is around 300 q. per Ha corresponding to 115-120 q. per day, equal to 300 kg. for 100 square meters. surface.
The leek harvested in autumn can be easily stored during the winter by keeping it sheltered from the cold in a dark and closed environment, or tied in bunches and covered with a layer of 15-20 cm. of fresh sand under a greenhouse, or inside pits protected by a layer of dry leaves or straw. For those who do not have a vegetable garden or garden, they can keep the leeks in a closed container so that the product is not exposed to light (for example, a black bag), even outside on the balcony of the house.

Video: Howto Make Miniature Leeks in 12th Scale - Angie Scarr Fruit u0026 Vegetables DVD (May 2022).