The JSN, (John Soulsby New).
Bred by myself this is the latest leek to make its mark, winning the NPLS championship in both 2017 and 2018. This leek has been described by many as the perfect leek. It has a very smooth, straight barrel with great solidity and is perfectly round. The foliage is a nice dark green colour which emphasises the pure white barrel. The parents of this hybrid where a Giant mother plant and a very good Cumbrian providing the pollen. The seedling was grown in a trench with no fertiliser or manure added. After careful selection I chose this plant which was 17” around and 5” to button.
Now this all sounds good but there are a few problems when growing this breed. The foliage is very brittle and will crack if damaged. I also found a few of my leeks bent above ground level. Another fault was splitting on the barrel, but I think this is the fault of the grower. This leek needs no fertiliser to grow as it is very vigorous and has no virus .
The JSN is definitely a leek of the future once we learn how to grow it properly. Maybe not a banker as yet.
That concludes my description of the 5 top pot leeks. I apologise for any breed I may have missed. I look forward to seeing new leeks over the next year or two. Here are some to watch out for.
Keith Forsters, Amelia. Derek Richardson’s leek we got a glimpse of this year. John Lawsons new leek we seen on Facebook. And two or three new Hybrid leeks grown by Peter Kerry.
The CSC or McKenzie as some people call this leek, was bred by Joe Calvert.
It first came to the showbench at the Jennings World Championship in Maryport where Joe Calvert came second. The main fault was evident from the first time I handled this leek. It had and still has a crease running up the side of the leek from the base upwards , which causes a soft spot on the side of the leek and when stripped shows up and makes the barrel very coarse.
The leek has had success in lots of shows and is widely grown because it is easy to achieve very big cubic measurements. It is still a nice leek up to about 16” as seen above, but loses quality when overgrown. Apart from being a coarse leek it sometimes carries heavy suckers and also gets a hole in the rootplate.
Not a leek I grow to show but is still a popular choice as it’s easy to grow and wins the biggest for best shows.
The Cumbrian is a top class leek winning shows for two decades. This is another breeding from Joe Calvert.
The Cumbrian has probably been the most successful leek in the history of the NPLS , taking top honours for almost 20 years. A lovely shaped leek that strips very well to retain good quality. A fault appears on the base if over stripped causing an uneven base known as a saddle. As the leek reaches 20 years old there are flaws appearing mostly due to poor stock selection.
New growers to this leek may struggle to achieve a good size but learn to grow the leek and success will follow.
Although this is a fine leek it still has faults. The worst in my opinion is the virus it carries. This is most evident in the months of December and January when light levels are at there lowest. As light drops the plants stop growing but the virus continues to grow and I have seen plants turn almost silver with virus.
Artificial lighting will help prevent this from happening but beware not to give too much light as suckers may appear at a later date.
I prefer not to produce too large a plant in the greenhouse as this keeps plants very short later in the season. It’s all about balance.
After 20 years this is still one of the most reliable and best quality leeks to grow. Select only the best plants for stock and take your time to learn how to grow this plant and I am sure success will follow.
This leek was bred by Keith Forster . I have grown this leek since Keith released it about 10 years ago. It has the ability to grow to an enormous size and weight, and holds the current world records for heaviest and largest cubic capacity.
The giant is an easy leek to grow to a large size and retains good quality up to sizes of 17 to 18”. Most growers will try this leek and if they are lucky will get them on the bench and win there show.
I say lucky as there is a downside to the giant. It is a hard leek to keep under 6”.
I have also seen double centres and suckers and the giant is also prone to holes in the rootplate.
I would not recommend growlights in growing this leek. The stock plants produce a very small head, Usually of small pips like grains of wheat. Also very reluctant to produce king pods. Worth a try and you may be lucky. Good luck.
The Betty Black , bred by Kenny Black. This leek has just had a very good season and has stood the hot weather very well. The Betty is another very heavy leek with very good solidity and very nice foliage of a dark green colour.
Apart from being a heavy leek it also does well with cubic capacity measurements.
The downside to this leek is it has a very heavy wedge to the barrel and can also go over the six inch mark. When grown large it also gets a hole in the rootplate.
A leek worth a try as it’s quite reliable and stands most weather conditions.
With the hot weather continuing and the temperature hitting above 30 degrees on a regular basis, we are now seeing problems galore. I am hearing leeks of all breeds splitting, running to seed, and stepping up. Not to mentioned suckers and leeks rotting in poly tunnels. I have had to remove about 10 leeks with centre rot. This stinks and as soon as you enter the poly tunnel you know you have a problem. I think it is just too high a temperature which seems to cause this. The leek seems to be cooked and it turns into a sloppy mess. I don’t know how to stop this and once you smell it, there is no way back.
I am also hearing that thrip and red spider mite have been a huge problem. My own plants are still clean and I hope they remain like that for the rest of the season. I have wrapped 20 of my best pot leeks, hoping to have a good Blanch for the National Pot Leek Society Championships.
The JSN Pot leek have grown very fast and are all over 16″ in circumference but some are starting to split flags. My stock plants are looking very good, the onions have started to open their seed pods and plenty of black seeds showing. I did shave a few onion heads but none have produced any pips.
I have trimmed about half of my leek heads and they are starting to produce nice grass. I am shaving a couple of heads every 2 or 3 days, hoping for grass for later setting dates. I should have the following stock available for 2019:
- Blanch Leeks Pendle only
- Pot Leeks
- Betty Black
- Yorkshire Giant
- JSN Leek
Onion Seed available 2019 and plants for collection only.
Please note I wont be taking any orders until late Sept/Early Oct to ensure there are no mis-haps with my stock plants.
See you all at the shows,
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.