Leek Update September 24th
I had two lots of Pendle leeks growing this year with the first batch having been started off during early August last year and the second batch started off during late October. These were all of course grown from Bulbils taken from last year’s seed heads and initially grown in Levington F2S in 60 cells. The idea with the first lot was to get them early enough for Chelsea as I had planned on staging there. I have done the same thing again this year by taking bulbils early last month from both the Pendle and the Cumbrian Pot Leek.
In the end I kept them growing on for The Tatton Park Show and I was really amazed how well they grew with none of them going to seed. The leek column that I stage on my display usually takes nine leeks to fill it but on this occasion seven was sufficient as they were 9 inches in circumference. They were all grown in pots and I would never have thought that I could grow a leek with a girth of nine inches and 18 inches to the button in a 30 litre pot on a bench in a glasshouse.
The mix was quite strong – 70 litre bag of Levington M3, 20 litre pot of sieved soil that came from my celery bed and stored in my polytunnel to dry out. Finally another 10 litre of Vermiculite was added to open up the mixture and to allow more air in around the root system. This was the maximum volume I could get into the mixer, added to the whole mix was 100 grams Medwyn’s Osmocote Exact Standard 5-6 month release with an NPK of 15+9+12. This worked out really well as it ensured that the plants were never lacking for nutrients.
My second batch are growing away in 30 litre pots also and in the same type of mixture, these are at home and sitting on soil in my raised bed inside the polytunnel. These will be used this coming weekend at the Malvern Show where I hope to stage some in the competitive classes as well as on my display. I don’t support the flags anymore, they just have a stout 4ft long cane to keep the leek perfectly erect. I have endeavoured to pull the leek more this year using a 21 inch collar instead of my normal 18 inch one. Last time I looked at them they had extend slightly but not as much as I would have liked.
I do wonder if the Pendle is a better intermediate leek than it is a blanch, one thing I do know, it needs to be collared early to extend it to 18 inches. During the hot weather we had during July I was concerned as to how the incessant heat would affect the flags. The Welsh seedling used to form bubbles within the leek where the epidermis seems to part, and under such hot conditions this thin part of the leaf would eventually burn through. Thankfully the Pendle doesn’t do this and they never suffered at all through the heat.
With leeks, particularly when they are large and growing away strongly, the young new growth from the centre will inevitably be wrapped within each other. I regularly have to go through every pot opening up or separating the flags and laying them on top of the lower leaves. During the hot weather I stopped doing this to a few to as I was worried that the heat would scorch the you tender leaves. I needn’t have worried though as none of them suffered from any scorching.
My stock leeks are still outside at the moment and the bulbils for next year’s shows are well developed on them. After the show at Malvern these leeks, that are in pots, will be brought indoors to the glasshouse as I don’t want the rain to start off the bulbils to prematurely form roots whist still on the head.