Not according to Plan!
14th Jul 1999
This is the time of year when all the best laid out plans can sometimes go completely astray with no real indication either of what has gone wrong.
My problems started during the middle of June when three of my leeks went to seed, I haven't really got a clue why this should have happened. As far as I'm concerned, all the leeks, over forty of them, were all treated in exactly the same way, same compost, same pots, same growing conditions; yet three bolted simply because something within their metabolism decided it was time to produce a seed head instead of a prize winning leek.One can reason that perhaps these three pots were very near to the glass in the greenhouse and may have got a slight chill one night; the other scenario is that these three pots were under watered at some point. Plants of course need a regular supply of moisture to steadily grow on and if that supply of moisture is switched off, the plant will immediately start to protect itself by ensuring that there is a seed head being formed so that the leeks can continue growing the following year.
The long carrots this year have been a mixture of good and bad. One bed of 52 long varieties of my own selected seed are probably the best that I have ever grown; every station germinated well and they have all grown on, making the bed a picture to see. The next bed to them were sown about a week later with disastrous results; the young seedlings kept dying back on me to such an extent that I had to remove what was left and re-sow the whole lot; even this sowing is not as good as the first bed and obviously much smaller because of the re-sowing.
However two new vegetable varieties look like being something quite special; the two new F1 hybrid crosses I have from the Ideal celery certainly look like being potential winners, being far stronger plants initially than the standard Ideal. The crosses will yet have to prove themselves further with the main criteria being whether or not they will have enough petioles or stalks within the cross to make the required bulk for the show bench. Personally I am very confident as the breeding material came from Bob Herbert's winning celery at the NVS Championships at Malvern in 97 and that certainly possessed ample petioles to provide power to the hybrid. Bob will hopefully be exhibiting one of these crosses at an early show in the near future so I shall keep you informed on its progress
The other exciting new hybrid is the first ever large exhibition hybrid onion which was bred for me by the top onion breeder in Europe who crosses hundreds of different onions every year and this particular one is certainly proving to be every bit as good as my own Kelsae re selection. The great thing that seems to be forthcoming from this particular onion is its vigour and uniformity, just what you would expect from an F1 hybrid. Ivor Mace has planted a whole bed of this variety, so who better to cast an experienced eye over them; again I shall keep you informed of its progress.
My tomatoes, Goldstar and Solution are growing away well and keeping very clean and free from any whitefly. Since this is the first year that I have been growing them in the new wooden box construction, I will have to wait a while longer before I get really excited. It does appear to me that the new F1 hybrid Solution can be every bit as good as Goldstar and anyone entering my greenhouse would find it very difficult to differentiate between both crops. One thing that I am pleased about is the total absence of whitefly over the past three years ever since I completely removed soil from the borders and concreted over the whole floor area. Whether or not the soil was the problem or the host weeds probably growing unnoticed under the benches, it is certainly beneficial not to have to spray continuously against this pest; indeed I haven"t used any chemical at all up to this point and the plants are looking a picture of health.
My last batch of cauliflowers for planting outdoors went out into the field after a lovely shower of rain at the end of the first week in June and these will hopefully cover the September shows. The cauliflowers for planting in the polytunnel after the large onions have been harvested were sown on 2nd June( three different varieties, Beauty, Memphis and Liberty). As these will have been completely grown throughout under covers, one of the varieties should be ready towards the end of August.