Two people have had a great influence on the selection and crossing of blanch leeks over the past decade or so. Ivor Mace was the first to introduce a new cross on the show scene with the ‘Welsh Seedling’ which won at the highest level for many years, indeed Ivor won with it last year at both the Welsh Championships and the UK Championships. David Metcalfe followed that with the Pendle leek named after the Pendle hills close to his home. This was the leek that Micky Ruddy from Benwell Newcastle broke the World record with for a pair at 382 Cubic inches. This was certainly a heavy leek but lacked some refinement and wasn’t that easy to pull.
The next cross was the Pendle Improved which is still the one to beat today. There is however one fault with it, it has the tendency to throw out some side shoots from the root plate that work their up in between the flags. This happens late on in the season as the leek is maturing and can eventually throw your leek out of shape. This was followed by another leek from David that he called Llanberis, named after the Snowdonia village where I hold my annual Masterclass Weekend, (Details on my last Blog) this has been rather disappointing and hasn’t really made any impression on the show scene so David nor myself will be continuing with this one.
For the 2018 season we have another blanch leek that’s developed once again by Ivor Mace, it’s a cross between the Welsh seedling and the Pendle Improved. Ivor sowed all the seed from the cross and noticed that there were five young plants that looked as if they could make the grade as a new Blanch leek. Ivor let me have some bulbils from the five types that he numbered from 1 -5 and it very soon became obvious that N01 was to be the most promising. N03 initially looked good as well but it soon transpired that it had everything that a good look shouldn’t have, bulbous bottom, bubbling up of the flags, side shoots as well so this was very quickly dumped. It’s incredible to think that by crossing one head with another that you would have so many extreme differences between them. Ivor of course being a proud Welshman, and tongue in cheek, wanted to call it ‘Alwyn ap Medwyn’ which is ‘Alwyn the son of Medwyn’ it didn’t take long for that one to be thrown out! So the name we settled on in the end is ‘Llanedwen’ after the hamlet where my land is located.
Ivor doesn’t want to be involved in propagating this new leek so we have agreed that I am the only one to bring it to market, it will be available in my next seed catalogue as rooted bulbils and Premium plants for those growers with no heat or artificial lighting. This new leek looks as if it has the potential to be even better than the Pendle Improved. I hope to have some on my Display at Malvern in September and Ivor and John Branham (who also had some pips) are hoping to show it at either the Welsh Championships or the National.