Disaster with Leeks
Thursday 9th August
After using my first batch from a dozen Pendle Improved leeks for the Royal Welsh Display at Builth Wells I was left with a further 32 at Home that I was hoping to use in the Welsh Championships as well as in the National at Malvern. That will not now be happening as well over half of them are bolting or going to seed. I hate it when I open up the leaves in the centre only to find that there is no young leaf coming through, a sure sign that the leek is about to bolt.
It could be a combination of the fluctuating temperatures with far too much difference between day and night. They were also left in the pots a little too long prior to going into their final 30 litre containers. The infuriating thing is that last year I was struggling to get my leeks to bolt for the production of bulbils, so I treated them dead rough. I gave them no water for days on end, kept them outdoors in low temperatures and they were kept so pot bound they must have been near to dying, yet none of them would bolt or throw up a seed head. Yet when given good growing conditions the buggers decide to bolt – that’s growing for showing for you.
One thing is very clear this year, the leeks that are left should be my best for a long time as they are already on 7 inches around and 17 inches to the button. I made a deliberate effort this year to revert back to my old method of collaring the leeks earlier. In fact they were on 12 inch collars when still in 5 inch pots and I now know that the Pendle Improved likes to be collared early to extend the blanch. Last year I wrapped 18 inch collars on the Pendle after leaving them too long on the 12 inch collars, they just would not lengthen and though very bulky I was lucky to stage them at just over 14 inches to the button.
Last November I was given a dozen young rooted new leeks from David Metcalfe, yet to be given a name, this is another of his crosses and looks like being a particularly useful leek for the Intermediate class if not as a blanch. This is a class for leeks measuring between 6 inches and 14 inches to the tight button. Because of the above problems with the Pendle bolting, I may well have to revert to using these on my display stand at Malvern. They have now just had fifteen inch collars put on them and potted up to 30 litre pots using Humax John Innes N03. They are also around 7 inches in circumference but whether or not they will pull up in time in the next 7 weeks, time will tell.