July is underway and what weather we are having! I cannot remember a year like this before; with a very cold and wet start to the year, turning very hot and dry for the last 2 months. This is most growers nightmares and I am hearing of lots of problems with leeks running to seed and splitting, which is caused through stress on the plant. The cold weather is bad enough, but extreme heat is more stressful and will take its toll if the hot weather continues.
As you may remember, I had to reduce the length of some of my plants by splitting the button on several flags. The leeks looked awful at that time, but they have now just about fully recovered. The trench of JSN leeks that were planted with short buttons and left alone are looking very good at the moment. They are still only 2 inches to the button and around 14 inches in circumference. There is a natural lift on these leeks. The leeks that I did split are approximately 4 inches in length but no lift on the flags. The circumference of these are now 13 inches. 2 of my JSN leeks bent for no apparent reason and I removed both from the trench and binned them.
I have only planted 12 cumbrian, from 2 different sources. 6 are straight barrelled and look very good, about 13 inches in circumference, and the other 6 are tapered, a bit longer and also 13 inches around. My blanch leeks are making growth too quickly and they have started to split. The length has come down from 19 inches down to around 15 inches; not a good sign. They are also yellow and burnt and looking very stressed. I have heavy shading on these poly tunnels.
It is this month you need to be vigilant about red spider as they love the hot weather. Make sure you keep a regular spray but never in full sunlight and also never overspray. Always make sure just to mist your plants and never saturate them.
Moving onto stock plants, most of mine are showing very strong stems with fine seed heads. All were still covered with the sheath at the beginning of July but are now opening quickly as flower heads start to swell. I have noticed a few stock plants producing grass as well as flowers. I hope these do not come too early. I will hold off shaving my stock plants until the beginning of August. This will hopefully give me fresh grass to start setting in October.
My onions are looking really nice. Very clean with a good shape and all about 19 inches in circumference. This year I have grown all my stock onions at the nursery and this has made a massive difference as the commercial greenhouses are very high with great ventilation and thermal screening which can be opened and closed at the touch of a button. My onion seed heads are just starting to plump out and look full of seed.
That’s all for now folks, enjoy the sunshine!
I did not mention on my previous blog about my stock plants as there were no heads showing at that time, however in the last few days, I have seen heads galore on my stock onions, and the first heads appearing on my leek plants.
I must say, some of my stock plants were still of exhibition quality up until May, being very clean, still a very good size and really solid. The best I have had in many years. Peter Kerry remarked they were as good as stock he had seen in 50 years.
On the downside, you have heard me say how good Peter’s new hybrid Pot Leek is. Unfortunately he has informed me that they have not faired well through this hard winter. Peter is now looking to keep this hybrid for another year and not release for 2018 as he is looking to keep perfection within this leek and has destroyed any stock plants not looking perfect. This leaves him short on numbers. He will grow stock on for another year before releasing to anyone and I have a lot of respect for him for this.
Sorry there has not been any info put on here for 2 months. My workload has been very heavy and I have worked 16 hour days, 7 days a week since the end of March.
Looking at plants in general in my workplace, I thought growth was poor up to the middle of April. We had cold, dull days until then but as we started to get some sunny days, the greenhouse temperature lifted and the growth rate improved of all my basket plants and perennials. They seem to have caught up with last seasons growth. Hanging baskets started to flower right on target and things were back on track.
In my greenhouse at home the plants were looking great. Leeks and onions all into 5 litre pots and bang on the size I had hoped for. With my compost having exemptor added, all plants were very clean and healthy.
I mentioned in my last blog that I had taken one polytunnel skin off to let the winter work on the trenches. Unfortunately I was very late in getting a new skin put back on and my leeks suffered through being crammed onto the greenhouse benches. Most leeks were pulled too long as I did not get any pot leeks planted until late May. This is 5 or 6 weeks later than I would have liked. The weather conditions at this time were varying from one extreme to the other (approx. 30 degrees Celsius to freezing cold within 24 hours) which took its toll on my plants. Blanch leeks suffered and showed they were unhappy by yellowing at the ends of the flags but should recover as they make root into the trenches. I was fortunate as my onions were the last to be planted and I missed the extreme difference in temperature. I am happy with things considering the late planting dates. My blanch leeks at the end of May were averaging 18 inches to the button and 5.5 inches around. My quality onions stand around 11.5 inches with a neck length of over 12 inches. The Cumbrian pot leeks averaging 7.5 inches around and my JSN around 8 inches.
I have decided to drop the buttons on one trench of JSN’s. To do this I have to cut 5 or 6 buttons to drop them to 2 inches in length. They look pretty sick but I have done this before and they will recover by late July and hopefully still make the September shows.
I have not yet had time to visit any other growers but I am told there are some really big leeks and onions around. Along with size and hot weather, I hope this does not backfire with plants splitting or going double centred. I have found with larger plants at this time of year, you are more prone to problems later in the year. I will keep my fingers crossed and hope to see some real good quality with good size at the shows.
One last word;
A very good friend of mine passed away on May 16th. Many of you will know and miss Bob Greasley from Wolsingham.
I would also like to mention the sad passing of another friend Roly Gray from Hawdon, Black Hall.
Both of these men were top growers and lovely gentlemen who will be sadly missed by many. May you both Rest in Peace.
After coming through some adverse weather conditions in February, the main difference has been the sun rising higher in the sky and now shining full on to my greenhouse. This makes such a difference to the plants. I was pleased with my leeks early in Feb but since potting on, the natural sunlight now shining directly onto them, I must say I am really happy with the growth rate. They are now growing very fast and seem to have doubled in size in the last 2 weeks.I did notice when potting, the health and cleanliness of all plants was excellent with really thick white roots and beautiful coloured foliage. This is now paying dividends and I hope they stay in such good condition.
The leeks I shortened by nicking the button are now nice and short and looking very good, but as plants are now growing fast I noticed others are splitting and keeping short naturally.
I introduced my first collars to the blanch leeks as I moved into 5 litre pots. I used pipe lagging cut to 12 inches in length then introduced a split cane and wrapped with 12 inch of damp course. This will have to be checked every 2 weeks and loosened or maybe increased in length as plants grow.
Some not so good news on my laboratory produced virus free leeks;
In September I provided a laboratory producing merry stem cuttings with 10 plants of Cumbrian strain leeks. These plants were cut down and dissected into minute segments from the growing tip at the centre of the root plate. These cuttings/cells were placed into sterile containers containing a hormone gel and placed into a constant temperature and growth cabinets. After 10 weeks the first single plant started to grow but it took another 6 weeks for the second plant to grow which was very weak and spindly. After another couple of weeks I was informed the first plant was being cut and dissected and the process started over again. It looks like it will be a very slow process and I only hope we end up with a superleek for the future.
With the National Pot Leek Society having to postpone their annual general meeting because of heavy snow in early March and the North East Horticultural Society having a low attendance because of more snow the third week in March we wonder what the future weather will bring. I personally removed one poly tunnel cover before the winter ste in to allow my trenches to take full weather conditions and be flushed to reduce conductivity and salts. The frost would also have helped kill and rid bugs which would normally have enjoyed the protection of the polythene cover. The only disadvantage is, this late weather condition has stopped me from recovering with polythene and my trenches will take longer to raise in temperature, delaying planting by a few weeks.
Lets keep our fingers crossed the weather improves soon and our season gets back on track.
As our season rolls on and the weather starts to improve, I can see good growth in my leeks. But let me remind everyone that size can be detrimental at this time of the year as we are looking for good quality leeks in September, not as big as we can get now to look good in the greenhouse.
My JSN leeks are about the size of a pencil. They are in 1 litre pots in a mix of 2/3 professional multi purpose and 1/3 John Innes number 2. The roots are excellent and I may pot a few into 3 litre pots increasing the John Innes to 50% of my mix. I have noticed some of the JSN leeks have started to lift in length and I will nick the buttons to keep them nice and short.
My Blanch leeks are in 1 litre pots, ready in a week or two to move into 3 litre pots. They also are as thick as pencils and as I pot on, I will ad the first collars to increase their length.
I am just about finished posting leeks now, just a few requests for late Feb delivery.
Footnote: Please note I cannot post ANY pot sizes out so please don’t order any pots to be sent via post as they are collection only.
Look out for March Blog…
Would customers please note that ONLY cells will be delivered by post. No pots at all can be posted and they are all COLLECTION ONLY as stated under each product.
I have had a lot of orders that I have been unable to fulfil due to the above so this is really important to make sure your plants are of good quality.
Good morning everyone,
It is New Years Day and I hope everyone is clear headed and feeling positive for a fantastic 2018.
I thought I would do a short blog this morning to let you all know that this coming week I will be posting out leeks and the J.S.N leek is ready for collection too. If you have placed an order online please specify going forward whether you prefer post or collection, unless of course I have already specified in the product page. Please also be patient as I have quite a lot to get through.
My growth cabinet is in full use at the moment but no plants receive more than 7 days of 24 hours per day light.
I will be posting some growing tips each month for you all to look forward to, amongst other things where time will allow.
This months tip;
Please use a good quality compost – you only get what you pay for. Greenhouse temperatures of 50 degrees are adequate, do not overheat.
Wishing a Merry Christmas to all and a very happy and healthy New Year! There is not long to go until xmas now and i am almost sold out of my xmas trees.
I can now start to think about my leeks, with lots of potting to do and then posting leeks out in January.
I have just taken delivery of my clover compost. As most of you know, i use clover professional compost and also add exemptor insecticide and multicoat 3-4 month slow release fertiliser. This is done in the factory to make sure dosage levels are correct. By adding this to my compost i do not have to worry about spraying or feeding the young plants as the compost additives will look after this for me.
I will be potting on at about 6 week intervals, hence adding a fresh batch of feed and insecticide at each potting. This should keep plants growing well and free from pest damage.
This year I am pleased to be offering my new pot leek the J.S.N leek which i released to a small amount of growers for the 2017 season and Scott Hall went on to win the National Pot Leek Society Championship show. Well done to Scott!
For the 2018 season, i ask anyone who would like this leek, to collect in January from my greenhouse in Kibblesworth. I think everyone would agree it is about time we had something new to grow. On the subject of something new, i am pleased to tell you about another release which will be for 2019. Peter Kerry bred a new hybrid pot leek of immense size and superb quality and a new hybrid intermediate leek which is also a very good size and quality. These will both be available from my greenhouse in a years time.
Thats all for now, please keep checking the site for new posts to follow in the new year!
Sitting here on a freezing cold December morning updating my website for you all to enjoy. I wanted to keep you updated as I am currently extremely busy with Xmas tree sales and will not be able to post any leeks until January.
Once I am up and running with the leeks I will be sharing regular blogs and updates for you to help you grow to the best standard possible. I also will share some good news on the leek front.
Another customer waiting… see you soon!