Phenomenal Growth in all the Vegetables
29th Jun 2000
From now on there will be some phenomenal growth in all the vegetables for the show bench, particularly those that you timed for showing from mid to late August. It never ceases to amaze me how much bulk that carrots can put on in a matter of two weeks when approaching maturity. It is at this crucial point therefore that you must not upset the growing pattern by giving then any unnecessary feeding that could throw the plant out of line with disastrous consequences.
Leeks and Onions
Take for instance leeks and onions, any extra nitrogen given at this comparatively late stage in their final development will cause splitting of the outer skins as well as rendering the plant soft and therefore prone to attack by disease. If you feel that your plant needs a feed of some description then I would prefer, at this time of year, to use a balance feed or a feed leaning more towards the higher potash than any of the other macro nutrients. Phostrogen has all these qualities and if you want to really harden up the cell walls then use the Phostrogen tomato fertiliser which is even higher in the potash ratio.
Ideally your leeks should all be on their final collars by now and putting on some real weight, you should be aiming for a leek around the 7 inch in circumference and 18 inches to the button. However if you intend to make a real challenge at national level then you need at least another inch in circumference as well as an inch or two in length. If you are really serious and intent on smashing the current World record for two blanch leeks then you need have them in excess of 342.16 cubic inches. This record is held by Peter Holden from Thornley County Durham and when I was speaking to him a few weeks ago his strong tip for any aspiring blanch leek grower was not to feed at all. Peter never feeds his leeks when in the pots or when growing in the beds and if he can do it then we should all be able to.
Incidentally the 342.16 cubic inches was made up as follows, one leek was 19.9 inches to the tight button and 10.5 inches around while the other was 19.1 to the button and 10.5 in circumference. If you want to check how you are comparing with Peter this year then on the 6th of June his blanch leeks were 6.6 inches around and 12 inches to the button. I you want to really know his secrets for success then all will be revealed later on this year after I have been over to see him to write up a special article on his achievements.
I shall also be writing a special on Gerald Treweek and the way he grows his excellent long carrots winning the National Vegetable Society class last year as well as the special carrot class for three long and three short at Harrogate.
The third special article will be on Bob Herbert and the way that he grows his Brassicas to such a high standard that he is regularly amongst the cards at the highest level with both cauliflowers and cabbages.
My parsnips are doing really well at the moment and are probably the best that I have ever had at this time. Covering the bed over with fine nylon mesh and that covered over again with thin polythene has certainly helped matters. The thin polythene was completely removed when the weather settled a couple of weeks ago but the mesh will stay on until they are harvested. I have four beds with sixteen in each one and they are all of the variety Javelin. This is certainly a fine variety and different in shape to gladiator but when well grown, I believe it to be a better quality parsnip that Gladiator.
Gladiator is undoubtedly a heavier type but it does have a tendency to waist in at just under the shoulder whereas Javelin will carry it's weight slowly all the way down. They have been given regular foliar feeds with Phostrogen with some added pesticide to make sure that they stay clear of any pests. I also have six drums of 4 Dagger growing at my friend Jims garden as well as some brand new F1 hybrid variety that is yet to be named but it really looks vigorous. According to the breeder this variety is very dense, so dense in fact that it might even sink to the bottom of my old steel tub that I use to wash them in. Currently only the carrots and long beet sink to the bottom with the parsnips always floating on top regardless of their size, so I shall watch with interest how they perform.