May Edition: Grow your Christmas dinner
Grow your Christmas dinner Progress
Since sowing the first of the Christmas vegetable seeds back in April, lots of exciting developments should have happened. Now the worst of the weather is hopefully behind us plants some can be transplanted outside or to their final growing positions.
Additional Christmas vegetables can also be sown now including swede, carrots and red cabbage. If you didn’t have time to sow your own vegetables or they weren’t successful there are lots of vegetable plug plants available.
This is the month that snails and slugs really begin to wreak havoc, all the new growth sends their appetite into overdrive. They are mostly active after dark especially when it is both warm and damp. It is worth sowing a few extra seeds so that you have some back up seedlings should any be damaged.
Any young seedlings are the most vulnerable so prioritise those, one way to do this is by placing fabric around the base of the pots to stop crafty slugs entering underneath. Organic slug pellets are another option although they could potentially cause damage to other wildlife. Our favourite and most trusted method is using a beer trap. No need to use any special micro-brewery hop, a cheap one will suffice. Simply sink a beer trap into the ground near your precious vegetable patch, keeping the rim just above soil level and half fill with beer – slugs will be attracted to the smell.
Parsnips seeds sown last month should be coming on a bit now. When they reach 2.5cm in height, thin them by pulling up the weaker and smaller seedlings to give the larger room to grow. Allow at least 10 cm between each one. Ensure that the area around them remains weed free so they don't have to compete but be careful not to damage any of the roots. Avoid the common problem with parsnips of the roots splitting by continuing to keep the soil moist.
If you sowed Brussels sprouts traditionally in a seed bed in April, from now until
early June, is the time to transplant them to their final growing position. Brussels Sprouts need somewhere both sunny and sheltered from harsh winds. If you haven't planted yet, now is the very last chance to get these seeds sown in time for Christmas.
Not as popular as carrots and potatoes, swedes also make an appearance on Christmas day depending on where you are from. They can be sown now either indoors or outdoors depending upon your location.
If swedes are sown directly they require free draining soil in a sunny part of the garden. Ideally, they need soil rich in nutrients which can be achieved using a good compost and natural fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone. Swede like a firm seed bed so tread the soil down if it has been dug over recently.
Sow swede thinly 3cm deep in rows 40cm apart. After about ten weeks the seedlings should be large enough to handle at which point, they should be thinned out leaving the larger to every 23cm.
Like parsnips swede can stay in the ground right up until Christmas without deteriorating. However, swede are not quite as hardy with harsh winds so choose a spot which is slightly sheltered or protect with a Pest and Wind Barrier.
Regarded as a long-term crop, swedes must be watered regularly so that they are kept moist, and surrounding soil must be kept weed-free. Avoid diseases and pests such as flea beetles by covering with Horticultural Fleece.
Carrots are a family favourite Christmas dinner vegetable and depending on the variety, carrots such can be sown in rows or garden planters if they are short rooted. The ideal planter for short rooted carrot varieties is the deeper Vegetable Patio Planter with three or four seeds in each. Alternatively, get the Carrot Planter - specifically designed for the job.
If sowing carrot seeds directly they need an area which is both well prepared and well drained. Seeds need to be sown in a very shallow trench, no more than 1cm deep and at least 5cm apart. They need to be covered over with soil and watered in - germination should take place within 14 days. It is advisable to sow carrot seeds sparingly as this reduces the need to thin them out which can attract carrot root fly. Avoid pests and diseases by covering with horticultural fleece and a pest and wind barrier. check out this blog for all you need to know about avoiding carrot flies.
Growing Red Cabbage
Red cabbage has become an increasingly popular Christmas dinner accompaniment over the past few years. To ensure it’s ready for the big day it should be sown in now. It is a handsome vegetable in the garden, as well as on the plate, with its’ exact colour being determined by the acidity of the soil. Fortunately, it is not difficult to grow requiring well-draining soil, partial shade and well-prepared firm soil.
Raised beds are ideal but not essential. Red cabbages need lots of space (between 30 and 40 cm apart depending upon the variety). They should be sown into a seed tray and then transplanted later in the year when they have four or five leaves.
Red cabbage can be grown in pots too. It is an impressive addition to your container garden when planted in Vegetable planters
Although not difficult to grow they are susceptible to pest and diseases so be prepared. Planting nasturtiums nearby can deter cabbage butterflies.
Sage should be ready to pot on now either into a larger pot or in the garden. It does well in well-drained soil. Grit can be added to the planting hole to assist drainage, sage also does best in full sun.
If you missed the previous edition check it out here:-
Growing your own Christmas dinner - April edition
Look out for our blog in June for the next instalment of grow your Christmas dinner.
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