Long Carrots & Leeks
14th Jul 2004
If you think your vegetables a really growing well don't start to sit back on your laurels as things still need to be done if you are to ensure a few Red cards at this Summers flowers shows.
At this time of year the long carrots should really be growing away and it"s quite astonishing how much weight they are capable of putting in a week. One bad fault that I sometimes see in a set of exhibited carrots is a specimen that has developed a side shoot on the crown or shoulder and that's developed into a multi headed carrot. With such multi headed carrots when this happens the shoulder is always more oval than it is round.
Take time therefore to have a close look at each carrot and remove any side shoots that you come across. Sometimes the side shoot may appear to be small and grows between an outer leaf and the crown, such as you often get with celery. In such cases remove the leaf and the side shoot together. The best way to remove the side shoots is to press them downwards rather than attempting to cut them with a knife or blade. Pressing them outwards and downwards will give you a clean cut which will very quickly heal up and will hardly be noticeable by show time. When carrying out this operation be very careful not to scratch the carrots shoulder in any way as it will certainly show up later on when you try to wash them.
My leeks are currently the best that I have probably had up to now, although I do hasten to add that having a good girth early doesn't always guarantee that you end up with the best leeks ever. I have take a leaf from Peter Holden's' book for the past few years as a guide to how my blanch leeks are progressing. Peter told me a few years ago when I wrote a special article about his achievements with blanch leeks, how he gauges the progress of his leek growth. When he won the World record for the biggest pair of leeks the girth measured 6.6 inches on the 6th of June, a very easy formula to remember, four sixes - 6.6 on the 6th day of the 6th month.
I have been measuring mine ever since, more as a matter of interest than any serious ideas about beating a World Record! This year however they were the best and biggest leeks that I have ever planted out and on the 6th of June there were none in the bed under 6.6 inches around with the majority around 7 inches. It would be very presumptuous of me to think that I will have the best leeks ever, but with such a good start, who knows.
Fusarium Basal Rot
Everything comes at a price however and I have actually lost about 6 of my leeks to the disease Fusarium Basal Rot.
Many people perhaps don"t realise that they have this disease and the first sign probably will be the foliage starting to bend over to one side and will eventually die back altogether. What happens is that the disease seems to take hold of one side of the root plate first and destroys the roots in that area. The remaining healthy roots are then still growing so the growth pushes the leek growth more to one side than the other. When I discovered this problem, the leeks were removed and placed in the rubbish bin. When they were planted out they looked perfectly healthy as I made sure that that I had a good look around the base of each leek.
The probability therefore is that the disease could well be in the bed and if so I need to make sure that I get rid of it pronto, this coming Autumn. What I have used this Spring for the first time ever is Jet 5 and I have to say I was very impressed with results that I have achieved using it. Jet 5 is a powerful and safe disinfectant specifically formulated for horticultural use and contains 5% peroxyacetic acid, 10% acetic acid and 25% hydrogen peroxide together with a surfactant to achieve a penetrating disinfectant action. Jet 5 acts rapidly and disinfection is achieved within one hour.
The makers don't claim that the product is a soil steriliser but should be used for sterilising benches, glass, pots, trays, tools etc. However it does say that it can be used to sterilise irrigation beds at the rate of 800ml per 100 litres of water and on sandy beds, to apply 3-5 litres per square metre. It is a disinfectant and as such it doesn't appear to come under the current pesticide regulations and is certainly not in the UK Pesticide Guide that I looked in. I therefore take it that, though intended for the commercial growers, I see no reason why any amateur grower can not buy and use it, strictly in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.