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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


  1. That, Paul, is a very helpful post, as far as I'm concerned. Thanks for taking the trouble.

    Coincidently, I set my first pot leek this morning, but before reading your post. However, my one remaining Pendle Improved will get the Bastow treatment very soon, as will a couple more Yorkshire Giant pot leeks.

    By the way, hat varieties of onions are you over-wintering this year?

  2. i have grown pot leeks for years and personally never used a leek or know any other growers who have used a leek that has gone to seed in its first year for stock. As you say they are clones of the mother leek so i would be very surprised if the grass does not go to seed in its first year also.
    Steve T

  3. Richard no comment
    Steve thanks for that I dont intend growing the grass for showing as I was also under the impression they would go to seed, this is just a practice run for next year to make sure i know what I am doing and the results will be ok for the kitchen

  4. Bloody hell mate, you are keen
    I thought I was keen turning over my whole allotment but the thought of turning out my drums just fills me with dread

  5. Paul

    up here in Scotland we have a number of early shows that look for 3, 4 or even 5 dressed onions from set. Could you tell me what varieties the onions in your pictures are?