To grow leeks that are both excellent in the kitchen and impressive on the show bench is a challenge which I've come to look forward to each year. I'm not talking about major NVS events here, you understand. Most areas have local town or village shows in which it is quite possible for the average veg grower to compete effectively. I have won 'Best in Show' for two years running in my local village show, first with pot leeks and then with blanch leeks. For 2013, I'm growing a few of both, but I suspect that it'll be the more conventional blanch leeks that end up in the show.
To grow leeks from seed with a view to the show bench is certainly not easy. You can certainly get shop quality without much effort, but show quality is another kettle of fish altogether. For those without dedicated well lit and well heated propagation facilities, the answer is to buy in young plants at this time of year and grow them on under cover through the winter months.
Yesterday, for the second year running, mine arrived in the post from John Trim in Southampton. I immediately unpacked them and stood them in a jug of water to revive them, despite the fact that they had travelled really well. The variety is 'Pendle Improved' and they are currently about half the thickness of a pencil.
After a couple of hours, I potted them up into 4" square pots in Sinclair Professional Fine Potting Medium and added a cane and support clip. They were left on the floor of my office overnight, and I'm just about to reduce the young flags by about a third of their height which Jon has advised me to do in order to kick start new growth. Because it is still very cold here, they'll stay in my office until the threat of heavy frost has receeded, before being moved to the greenhouse, hopefully at the weekend.
Take a look at my 2012 efforts to see how I progressed with my leeks from purchase to Village Hall.
1 month ago