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Friday, 23 December 2011

Going for a leek

Last Saturday I braved blizzard conditions to cross the Pennines and in to Lancashire to collect my leeks,
and also the ones that had been ordered by mediocre veg grower Simon umpa lumpa Smithyveg.

 As usual they were purchased from Dave Metcalfe and are his own strain called the Pendle improved, these leeks performed very well for me last year despite a few going to seed. Dave's greenhouse was crammed with leek and onion plants and just inside the door were some larger plants I was informed that these were his new variety and no one would be getting any this year until he knows if they are any good I now have 24 leeks from Dave plus another 30 of my own Pendle improved cultivated from the ones that went to seed.It will be interesting to see how mine perform along side Dave's.

Dave's new variety
Baby leeks in Dave's Greenhouse

Mine and Umpas Leeks safely home

My Leek plants doing ok
 Also my Onions are coming along nicely the giant Peter Glazebrook  ones have 3 true leaves
I have also got 30 Kelsae plants now potted on and have sown another sowing today. This is  to ensure I have plenty to go at .
I will also be sowing Vento in the next few days as soon as I have room, when Smithy collects his leeks next week.
I would also like to wish everyone who reads this a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Lux (not the soap kind)

In reply to Dan Undsworth's comment regarding lux meter, I purchased said item last year from said auction site and have found it useful in gauging the amount of light the plants are receiving,as you can see in the photos mine are getting approx 2500 lux which is more than enough. Anything over 1800 is good according to the so called experts who knows? but it worked for me last year and if it aint broke don't fix it  Linda still has no voice :-) don't worry she does not read this unlike other peoples wives lol.

As can be seen from the picture the sensor is on a retractable cord
 allowing the user to check the light intensity at the back

Saturday, 3 December 2011

An Enlightening Moment and more

This week I replaced a couple of my grow light bulbs, one had a couple of loops that did not light and the other was a smaller one than the others. I find the best and cheapest place to get these is on ebay. I did however have one arrive damaged it was well packed and factory sealed meaning that the seller had no idea of the damage.This bulb was replaced by the seller without question. I also got a second one with the repacement and both are now installed and working fine, the only problem is that they are a lot brighter than the other which are now 2 years old I may get another couple and then I will have new ones in all my lights, if anyone is interested the link to one being offered by the same seller is below.
If you  are using them for Onions or Leeks you need the Blue light spectrum this is for Propagation & Vegetative Growth The Red ones are for flowering and fruiting.

My Medwyns seed order arrived this morning all present and correct and I now also know that gyda chyfarchion means with complements. I ordered some old favourites plus a few new varieties, the list is as follows I have created links to each product 
Reselected Exhibition Variety - Stenner - a re selection from Enorma.  3 packets 
Carrot Sweet Candle                                                                               1 Packet
Sunset Cauliflower Yellow                        For a special class locally   1 Packet
Evening Star Celery                                                                                 1 Packet
Piccolo Courgette                                        For Trugs                            1 Packet
*NEW* Egery F1 Lettuce replaces Sandrine                                        1 Packet
Countess Parsnip                                                                                     1 Packet
Goldstar (Re Selected from the original F1 hybrid)                              1 Packet
Vento Onions for the 250g class                                                             1 Packet

The first of the Kelsae are just poking through the compost more should now follow
The Christmas tree has also gone up this week, only 4 weeks and we can get it down again and get back to norma.l I am looking forward to it as Harley will be more aware this year, and I think I am getting the latest Pink Flloyd CD if I behave till Christmas, another plus this week is that Linda has lost her voice heaven. 

The latest batch of Leeks have developed a great root system and are now in 3" pots.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Pricking out and potting on general tidying

The Giant onions were ready for pricking out today as most were a the crook stage this is the ideal time to do this so I potted all the ones that have germinated in to larger pots.Out of the 48 sown I managed 40 which is not bad at all I will have to get some money back off Peter Glazebrook for the ones that did not come through next time I see him (only kidding Peter)

I also potted on some of the Leek plants which I have grown from grass,the plants look good nice root system and lovely and straight,time will tell if they go to seed in the first year like their parent plant.

photos show all 3 lots of leek grass roughly 3 weeks apart in initial planting

I have now also sown my quality onions after having a chat with  Dan I decided to use Mr Fothergills Kelsae seeds. He grows his onions from plants that come from the same source and has excellent results, the seeds came a couple of weeks ago and were actually Johnsons which I believe is the same company. I have sown 84 seeds in modules and will keep selecting the strongest till I am left with about 40 plants to grow on

The new carrot bed is now finished and filled with sand and I also spent half a day cleaning all my water butts and sterilising them with Armillatox which apparently stinks awful when you come back in to the house with some on your clothes.
We also found a new use for the wheelbarrow
The overwinter onions and spring cabbage in the large tunnel are both doing well 

Saturday, 12 November 2011


In the last 2 days my Peter Glazebrook giant onions have started to emerge from the compost ,at the moment I have about 50% germination but expect that more will emerge in the next few days.It will be a case of keeping them warm and giving artificial light over the next few months, this year I have re arranged the growing room and also purchased a Timeguard ET05 is a plug-in electronic temperature controller and am hoping this will enable me to get a more even temperature throughout the coming months

Friday, 4 November 2011

Get your Orders In Early To avoid Disappointment

Today I ordered my seed Potatoes from JBA. I like to get the order out of the way early to ensure I get what I want and also to spread the cost of everything needed for the growing season. The varieties I have chosen are the ones that performed best for me this year I have opted for 3 coloured and 3 White and will only be growing 10 bags of each variety they are
Blue Belle
and Maxine
I also bought 3 ton of sand for my drums and beds at a bargain price of £90 delivered
and 1000 Pablo Beetroot seeds for £2.54 delivered which I think is also a bargain

The Beetroot bed that I created yesterday in the large tunnel has been planted with spring cabbage which will be ready well before I need to sow any Beetroot.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

More on Leeks and Leek Grass

The other day I gave Dave Metcalfe a ring to reserve next years Pendle Improved Leek plants for collection mid December the same as last year.I also asked him about his thoughts on whether the ones that went to seed this year would produce plants that would not go to seed in the first year replicating the parent plants behavior His answer was that he has sometimes forced some plants to go to seed in their first year to increase stock with no adverse effects.I am still not sure as other people have given me conflicting information,with all this in mind and following Medwyns article in the GN. this week on the very same subject I have decided to root another batch of 70 plants from one of this years seeded Leeks to see what happens IE will they or won't they go to seed  in their first year. I will be growing them in parallel with Dave's plants to see what happens.

Head split in half

Grass planted to start rooting
These small leek grass will start to go upright in about a week I planted the bottom of the grass vertical so when the tops straighten as they grow towards the light i should have nice straight plants
You may remember that I had a go at rooting some grass about 6 weeks ago just to practice the technique,these plants are now doing very well but I will not be growing them on because they were too early I may grow them through the winter in the heated tunnel for kitchen use.
ones i rooted earlier
The head gardener has now moved back from Lancashire which is a blessing and we now see him every day as he is just across the road, he visited the garden the other day to check out the progress of the sprouts for Christmas only to find they have grown rather large.

I have also continued with the revamp to the large tunnel the long carrot and parsnip house has gone and the bed has been raised and filled with compost mix.This will be perfect for beetroot as the compost is nice and open texture which should allow the tap roots to grow nice and straight
Monday was the day that I bit the bullet  and sowed the giant onions for next year I was not going to bother but after being stood with Peter glazebrook when he officially beat the world record and just buying a packet of seeds from him I regained the bug to grow a giant, also I have promised Dan some plants for the spring to see if he can finally break 10 pounds, he will probably make a mess of it as usual but we will see.The packet of seeds had just over 50 in it for £6 I sowed 48 in modules and will now wait for some signs of germination we only need about 10 plants between us so some spares will be given away as I pot them on

    The over winter onion setts are doing nicely and I also have some plants from seed donated by Richard veg Patch which are also doing nicely

Monday, 26 September 2011

Next year starts here

Sunday was the day when my overwinter Onions went in to a bed in the tunnel,I have had great success for the past two years with a perticular class at my local show for 3 onions from setts dressed. I find that growing overwinter onions allows me to lift early which in turn allows them to ripen properly and also frees up the ground earlier for other crops.As you can see from the photos below of the last two years winning ehibits you end up with lovely ripe onions.And by the way Richard to save you looking back i have planted Radar, Shenshyu, Red Electric and Shakespeare
I have also started taking apart the ill fated long carrot an parsnip house I intend to use the sand from the barrels once sterilised in the new stump bed  that I am adapting from  an old bed which was used this year for purple haze carrots and a few parsnips this will give me another 50 stumps which I will need if i am going to have a go at the national next year.I intend to have all my ingredients for the mixes sieved and ready by the end of November so that it will just be a case of mixing them come sowing time.

I also sorted the onion grow room in readiness for sowing  my giant onions the first week in November 

I have been experimenting with the leek grass purely for research purposes this year, as I am going to be buying leek plants in again from Dave Metcalfe in December 
I was asked by some of my followers to show the process step by step so here goes 
only select your best leeks to use for producing grass,as Pendle improved is a hybrid the seed that is produced is not true to strain so you need to produce grass which will be a clone of the original plant hence picking your best ones for this process. After the show cut the leek down to 6" and trim the dead roots leaving the root plate intact  then place the leek in a bucket of weak Jeyes fluid mix for 20 minutes,after this pot it up in to a good soil based compost  and the leek will soon start to grow new foliage 

Keep the plant frost free over winter and by may the following year a seed spike should appear, this will need supporting as it grows 

at the end of July cut off all the flowers which forces the leek to produce grass mini leeks on the seed head 
the object now is to keep the seed head alive as long as possible,the stem will start to rot in October so you will need to cut it off the plant leaving as much good stem as possible the head then needs to be placed in a bottle of water and change the water every 3 days to stop the bottom of the stem decaying ,keep checking for decay and if you see it trim the damaged part of the stem,the object is to keep the seed head and grass in good condition for as long as possible the ideal time to remove the grass is early November 
I had a go a couple of weeks ago on one of my seed heads from the ones that went to seed in their first year and the results so far have been good 

  grass from head ready to start rooting
rooted grass after 2 weeks