October & November Edition: Grow your Christmas dinner vegetables
Time to chack on your Christmas Dinner vegetables.
October Gardening Jobs
Stake Brussels sprouts as they can become top-heavy. Drive a sturdy stake into the ground and tie each plant into it.
Bring potato planters undercover, ideally into your greenhouse or indoors. This will protect them from frost and increase your chances of a good harvest.
When your Brussels sprouts have plenty of buttons, cut the tops of the plants off to stop upwards growth, which will ensure the plant’s energy is directed to maturing the sprouts. Start harvesting from the bottom of the plant, picking the sprouts when they are still tight, after the first frosts as this improves the flavour. 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.Leeks are very hardy and will stand in the soil perfectly well through the winter until needed at Christmas. If there are signs that they are about to flower (there will be a bulge in the stem - see image) then you will need to harvest them. Once leeks flower they turn woody and are too tough to eat or even cut with a sharp knife!
Once harvested, leeks will stay fresh for 1 to 2 weeks if stored in a cool place.
Harvesting Parsnips & Swede
Once the leaves above the surface start to die down, the parsnips are ready to harvest and roasted for the big day! Parsnips can be left in the soil over winter for you to harvest
as needed at Christmas. Lift them when required - the remainder can be left in the ground through to late winter. Leave swedes in the ground too and harvest when required. Alternatively lift and store in moist sand in a shed or garage or even easier, in a natural jute bag such as the Haxnicks Vegetable Sacks. (Great for your potatoes and carrots too!)
Carrots can be harvested between 12 and 16 weeks by lifting carefully with a fork rather than pulling, especially when the soil is dry. Cover with a fleece blanket as the temperature drops. Lift your crop and trim the foliage to 1cm. Store in a box of sand or dry potting compost and make sure the carrots are not touching.. Stored in this way they should last throughout the winter.
You will know when to harvest garlic when the leaves start to die down and turn yellow in autumn. They can then be stored in a cool, dry place at 5-10°C until you're ready to use them at Christmas.
Not long now to the moment you sit down to home grown Christmas Dinner vegetables.
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