See also, How To Grow Big Ass Leeks!
So I heard that in Wales they have these leek growing contests to see which dude can grow the biggest leek. I wish they had those contests here, ’cause my leeks are hung like horses. People ask me- “Steven, how do you grow your leeks so big?”. Following is my take on the vegetable known as the leek and how I now grow them.
First off, there are lot’s of leek varieties out there. There seem to be two basic classifications of leeks, tall and short. Not all the tall leeks are skinny and not all the short leeks are fat, but it seems to tend that way as if the plant had only so much to grow and was guided either out or up. I used to grow the short kind as they are much more common and there was this whole thing about how you are supposed to dig a trench (which I did) and bury manure in the bottom (which I did) and then as the plants grow fill in around them with the dirt from the trench (which I did) and then maybe put some toilet paper tubes around them to help keep the dirt out (which I tried). Using this method you are supposed to eventually harvest a long blanched leek from deep in the earth carrying little or no dirt in the leaves. I was disappointed in the results. For one thing, if there is any dirt down in the leek then you still have to wash it out and it’s pretty hard not to get any in a short leek. The toilet paper tube thing seemed pretty useless. Secondly, the whole trench preparation and filling in thing is a pain in the ass. Read more »
Come February and March I rarely step outside without the essential pruning shears stuffed in my back pocket. The grafting knife gets sharpened and the fridge becomes crowded with scions (cuttings of wood from fruit trees) for grafting projects. At this time of year, most of my time seems to get used up planting, mulching, caging, pruning fertilizing, training, inspecting and grafting fruit and nut trees. And then there’s !Frankentree!…
The owner planted an arkansas black apple some years back, but the top must have died and only the rootstock survived because the apples were small hard green things not fit for eating. Not if you’re a spoiled human anyway. One day I found 4 to 6 inch claw marks covering one side of the tree up to 4 feet and more. Long curls of bark hung from the scratches. A few broken branches near the top told the story of a bear climbing the tree to get at the fruit. When I first saw this tree I was very excited because in spite of receiving no care whatsoever beyond establishment it was putting on good yearly growth and looked healthy and vigorous. I figured maybe some of the trees I intended to plant in the future might do this well without excessive pampering and was happy. Since the apples were useless I went straight away to the Scion exchange and collected a large pile of scions to work the tree over to different varieties. Every year in early to mid march Tamara and I go out to the !Frankentree! to add more varieties. I graft the scions onto the tree and she makes labels and takes notes to keep track of what we put on and when. As of today there are 84 distinct varieties (now 140), several unknowns from which the tags were lost or never put on and a few repeats. The tree had 20 plus varieties of actual fruits on it last year, but the Stellar’s Jays pecked nearly all of them to complete ruins while they were still hard and green. As soon as acorns were ready enough they abandoned green apple eating and went to work on them. If the ignorant villagers don’t come after her with pitchforks, axes and chainsaws for being an abomination of nature, I have high hopes for an abundant diversity of apples to taste this summer through winter.
I removed pretty much all the growth from the tree the first year and replaced it with apple varietals. Some people do this process in stages, but I don’t think it’s necessary if the tree is healthy and vigorous enough and if less crude methods than the usual are used. The usual top working method, known as topworking, involves loping off limbs 2 to 5 inches in diameter, splitting them open from the end and stuffing in a couple of scions cut to a wedge shape. This method leaves only a few new shoots per tree, and those few shoots have to grow out and gather sunlight for the whole tree. This method also leaves a large open wound which is not unlikely to become infected. This chainsaw and axe method of grafting over a whole tree is quick and cost effective, but the small scale orchardist can get fruit much faster and preserve the health of the tree at the same time by making lots of smaller cuts and putting on an equal number of longer scions, a technique known as frameworking. Read more »