Snow, Leeks & Sprouts

Snow may be pretty but you can have too much of a good thing. I could really do with getting out on the plot, if only for my sanity’s sake, but not in the snow. Having said that, we did drop onto the plot this afternoon and got a few leeks and the last of the sprouts.

Leek Experiment

My leeks were a bit of an experiment this year. One that I won’t be trying again. My thinking was that rather than growing them as I normally do in a deep pot and then transplanting them into a dibbed hole when they are about pencil thick, this time I would grow them individually in modules.

My reasoning was that I could pop the modules into a trench, earth up and they would do better as they had no root disturbance or damage. Well, I tried but these are not the best leeks I’ve ever grown by a long chalk. Miserable to be honest. Still, if you don’t try you don’t know.

I suppose it could be something else, but when you have a system that works, why fix it?

Sowing Too Early

I heard on Gardener’s Question Time a topical tip to sow calabrese now to avoid the caterpillars by having them early in the season. Hmmm, shall I or not? Not, I think. There’s more crops lost by being too keen and early than by being late and it’s hardly looking like an early season at this point.

John’s almanac weather forecast is that we’re going to have a glorious summer though. I was right about a cold winter so it’s 50:50 chance about the summer. It can’t be as bad as the last couple of years.

Potato Blight

I also heard that the last 9 of 10 years have been blight years on GQT although they couldn’t get the name of Smith periods correct. Great to see an expert stumped, glad I’m not one! Last year I tried to save some money by using my own saved seed potatoes from the blight resistant Sarpo. They appeared to be fine but I had my worst year ever with them. Blighted, holed and not as productive as normal. So we’ve bought some proper new stock and they’re chitting in the front bedroom now.

When you think of the effort that goes in to growing; preparing the soil, fertilising and then watering, earthing up etc, is saving a few quid on seed potatoes penny wise but pound foolish? Mind you, I don’t like chucking money away if I can help it.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
12 comments on “Snow, Leeks & Sprouts
  1. william hamilton says:

    Dear John

    Thank you very much for the signed book; quite the fastest delivery I’ve ever experienced. Devoured what you have to say – excellent. Well written, very informative and easy to understand. I rank your book highly.

    On a personal note:

    I have had an allotment (Petersfield) for three years that had a bad Marestail problem and found that the core of their root, which looks exactly like old black binder twine – and fooled me for a year until I realised what it was, can be dug up as it does not penetrate deeper than say dock. Maybe mine is a different variety.

    All power to your elbow


    • John says:

      Trouble with Marestail is the thin roots are hard to spot being soil coloured – still, if you’re lucky then I’m just jealous!
      Glad you liked the book. I do try and post out asap, after all – you trusted me with your money!

  2. Good luck with the predictions of a great summer. It is about time and I really hope you’re right. I don’t think I can take another year of my dad wingeing about all the rain and his drown vegetable patches! At least my mum’s had the right idea, admitted defeat and built raised beds for all her crops this year. They should just about stay out of the flood zone!

  3. Rachael says:

    A lot of people have said what a bad year they have had for leeks, so I doubt that it’s just the method that’s responsible!

  4. John says:

    You could well be right Rachael, I know it’s not a proper blind trial. Still my usual way works and is easier anyway. I’ll probably have an other daft idea to try this year!

  5. yanfoex says:

    Not one to water everyone’s bonfire but – I’m looking at the January 6th edition of GardenNews and Ian Currie’s forecast for 2009. “Summer will be late again.” Edited highlights: Wet May; June and July wetter than average in Scotland and Northern England; similar for the first half of August. There is, however, the promise of a warm Autumn, with October being particularly dry. “Distinct possibility of a white Christmas ….”

  6. John says:

    I really should read Garden News for long range weather 🙂

    However, I’m sticking with a glorious summer until it rains every day

  7. Swing Swang says:

    Hello John,

    I had my best year for leeks, but then it was my first year for leeks too!



  8. Nigel_Kirby says:

    Our problem with leeks has been attack by leek (onion) fly.
    Our solution has been to bring on in the greenhouse at home, then plant out late in September/October and cover with a fine woven material. This is NOT expensive enviromesh but cheap (50p/m) material from a fabric shop, the widest you can get.
    Result has been a good crop of reasonably thick leeks.
    Support the material on plastic hula hoops, cut open and stuck in the ground, they give enough clearance.

  9. Jon Wright says:

    Thanks for the tip on the Sarpo. I was going to use some of last years crop for this year but like you say for all the effort it’s probably wiser to buy new crop.


  10. Charles says:

    I’ve had a reasonable year for leeks, not too big but few failures. Size may have something to do with the poor weather from August onwards. I don’t worry about having to transplant them. I sow early, thinly in a seed tray, then when they are 2-3″ tall soak them out and put them in dibbed holes 2″ deep and 2″ apart in a bed in the garden. It’s quite easy to protect a lot of plants like this until they are big enough to fend for themselves. At about 5″ tall I soak well and dig up, trim the roots a bit and put them into the prepared bed on the plot at final spacing. Not very scientific but it has seemed to work for me for the past 3 years.

  11. Charlie says:

    It was my first year growing leeks,in fact my first year of allotment growing. My leeks seem to have turned out a bit sort of ‘squidgy’ and not particularly thick. I suspect my heavy clay soil has something to do with it? I would like to try again this year, what can I do to get better results?
    Also one of them has had the green leafy bit gnawed off by something. I don’t think it was slugs as the soil around the base looked slightly dug or scratched away.Despite this it was still standing and seems to have re-grown now. It’s a mystery made all the more strange that it was only one leek affected?? Any ideas?
    Thanks, Charlie

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