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December Edition: Grow your Christmas dinner vegetables

Written by Nicola Wallis

Time to Harvest your Christmas Dinner Vegetables

Harvest your leeks a week or so before Christmas by lifting gently with a fork, either as pencil thin baby leeks or as fully grown 3” (8cm) diameter ones. It is worth leaving a few leeks in the ground to flower as they are a very decorative

addition to the garden. These will also produce seeds that you can happily collect to use the following year.

Harvest red cabbages that have a firm head. This can be done a week before Christmas and stored in the fridge or on Christmas day. Simply cut through the stem just above ground level with a sharp knife. If you cut a 1cm deep cross in the stump of the cabbages after harvesting, they should go on to produce a second (much smaller) cabbage.

On Christmas Eve, harvest Brussels sprouts by starting from the bottom of the plant, picking the sprouts when they are still tight. Pick just a few from each plant and every time you harvest work further up the stem. When all the sprouts have been harvested you can cut off the top of the plant and use as you would cabbage. 

To harvest your potatoes simply turn your potato planter or bag upside down on a plastic sheet, into a wheelbarrow or a corner of the patio. Shake the soil from the roots and you will see the potatoes which you can gently remove.

When harvesting parsnips be sure to dig rather than pull them up. Pulling up by their green tops can cause breakages. Wearing gloves to avoid phytophotodematitus ease out gently using a garden fork to unearth roots and cut off the foliage about an inch above the parsnip. Only take what you need for the big day as the rest will store perfectly in the ground until required.

Take your carrots out of storage, dust down, wash and prepare. If harvesting directly from the ground, do this a few days before the big day. Take a hand fork or shovel to loosen the soil around the roots, being careful not to slice or sever the carrots. This is an important step not to be ignored otherwise it could lead to the

roots snapping off in the ground and half a carrot in your hand. Swedes should be harvested in the same.

How to buy the freshest vegetables for Christmas?

It is very easy to advocate growing your own Christmas dinner which is sometimes easier said than done: especially if you’re a beginner gardener or the weather has not been your friend. If your crops have failed or you haven’t had chance to plant everything you need don’t despair.

Rather than head to supermarkets along with everyone else have a look around

for local suppliers selling fresh and nutritious vegetables that have not been intensively grown.

Do a bit of research and see what farmers markets, grocers or farm shops are nearby. Chat to other growers and local allotment owners to see if you can do a veg swap with something you have too much of.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the new year. Don't forget to tag us in on your homegrown Christmas Dinner vegetables.



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