Planting leek bulbils or pips
6th Nov 1996
Preparing the greenhouses
This weekend will be a busy one for me as I shall be commencing on the annual routine of planting my leek bulbils or pips as they are generally called. Both greenhouses have been cleaned out thoroughly, even the pots from underneath the benches were taken out and cleaned. The first greenhouse had soil in the borders from many years ago and as the odd weeds were coming through so it was a perfect place for pests to harbour. The top few inches of this soil was therefore removed and the whole area concreted over, this now means that both greenhouses have concrete floors; and when they are all cleaned out with Armillatox, not only do they look clean and smell clean, they are sterilised as well.
If you haven't cleaned yours yet do make sure when washing it out that any electrical connections are made safe, I isolate mine at source and then cover over all the switches with a dry towel and cover that with polythene to make certain that no water gets into them. After the greenhouses have been cleaned inside and out I leave them to thoroughly dry out for a day or so after which I thoroughly check out the whole electrical system. It"s well worth while carrying out a visual check right along the cables and check the wiring in the plugs as well as the general condition of your heaters. This is a routine that I have carried out for years because when the electrical wiring is under pressure in the depth of Winter the last thing you want is for the system to fail you.
Pricking out the leek bulbils or pips
The actual pricking out of the pips is simple, I carefully remove them from the head and visually examine the root plate to make certain that they are pearly white and free from any corkiness or basal rot. Any suspicious heads will be discarded as they simply will not root effectively and inevitably they will collapse on you at a later date. The pips will be spaced out in large seed trays full of Levington F1 compost and then placed on my propagating bench with a bottom heat of 70°F and the air temperature will be maintained at a minimum of 55°F. As soon as they are visibly seen to be established and growing away, the artificial lights will be switched on and maintained for 24 hours a day right through to planting out time.
This year I only had one small head but thanks to Ivor Mace he helped out with some fantastic clean heads that he had spare from his own Welsh seedling strain. They were perfectly clean so they should get themselves established very quickly.
What a pity that every one in the vegetable growing world isn't like Ivor, only this week I had a sad letter from Bill McClymont Carlisle Cumbria, Bill is one of the top pot leek growers and has won National Pot leek Championship twice over the last few years. Someone has just stolen eleven of his twelve leek heads from his greenhouse overnight. On Thursday Bill had cleaned them up and sprayed them with a fungicide prior to taking them into the greenhouse, before he went into the house he had a look back inside and was so pleased and proud that they were probably the best heads that he ever had, they were spotlessly clean with no marks at all on the stem. However when he checked on them Friday lunchtime just to make sure that they weren't damaged through spraying, the eleven had gone.
They were three blanch leeks, 2 Peterlee cross, and the remainder were Sammy Dickinson cross. Bill therefore wants all growers to be very wary when ordering leek plants this year as he says you could hardly tell the blanch heads apart from the pot leek, only Bill himself knew which was which. I only hope that whoever has stolen them and is now reading this article feels totally ashamed of himself.