We hope you all enjoyed a sumptuous dinner yesterday to celebrate Christmas Day. From delicious roast potatoes to dreamy glazed parsnips and carrots, dishing up home-grown veg on Christmas day would be quite the achievement. If you act early and sow slow-growing vegetables in the new year you’ll have them peak in time for next Christmas, and what’s more, they can be all grown in containers! Read our quick guide on how to impress with festive vegetables picked straight from the garden.
Growing potatoes in a container is an ideal way to grow fresh produce as it minimises the amount of space you need, making them ideal for small spaces like balconies, yards or patios. The best varieties to grow for a festive crop are Charlotte, Duke of York, Maris Peer and Pentland Javelin. To have potatoes for Christmas day, you’ll need to get them planted in August as they take 12 weeks until they are ready to be harvested.
We recommend using a pot that is approximately 15in in diameter and depth. To grow, fill the bottom of the pot with a 10cm of multi-purpose compost. Place up to five chitted seed potatoes in the pot, then cover with another 10cm of compost. When green shoots begin to show, cover with another 10cm of compost and continue to do this until you have reached the top. Your potatoes are ready to harvest when the plant is in flower.
Short rooted carrot varieties such as Chantaney, Oxheart and Round can be grown in a container of at least 30cm depth. They prefer soil that is lightweight with good drainage and free from twigs and stones. Make planting holes 1.5cm deep and 1.5cm apart in your compost then sow your seeds from April onwards with approximately 3/4 seeds in each. Water and your seedlings should appear within 14 days. If seedlings are too close together, thin out the weakest plants. The carrots can be harvested between 12 and 16 weeks after sowing and can be stored for Christmas.
If you intend to grow in cabbages in pots, it is best to grow one or two in large, deep containers, ideally about 12in diameter and 8in in depth. For winter cabbages such as Supervoy and Tundra that will be ready for your festive feast, it is best to start sowing your seed in April/May, before transplanting into your container in late June/July. Plant seeds from ½ to ¾ inch below the soil. When you are watering, avoid the cabbage leaves and apply water directly to the roots to prevent causing the plant to rot. When the heads are firm, it’s ready to harvest!
Garlic can be successfully grown in pots of approximately 10in for 8-10 bulbs. Separate the bulbs into individual cloves, place them just under the surface of the soil, pointy end up. Garlic needs a long growing season so needs to be planted ideally in early spring. You will know when to harvest your crop 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. We recommend using varieties such as Solent White AGM, Carcassonne Wight and Picardy Wight.
A popular winter vegetable, leeks require a container that is about 18 inches deep. For Christmas harvesting, we recommend that you sow your seeds from mid-March to mid-April.
Leeks can be sown in small pots with one seed in each pot. Germination will happen after about two weeks. They can be quite hungry plants, so a sprinkle of poultry manure spread around the roots will help aid growth.
You can start to harvest leeks whilst they are still small by gently lifting from the ground using a hand fork – this will give you a longer harvesting period throughout the year. Leeks are very hardy and will stand in the soil perfectly well through the winter until needed at Christmas. They will also keep in the freezer for about three months.
Parsnips are not just easy to grow, nutritious and versatile, they are also extremely hardy and when glazed, are melt in the mouth with your Christmas meal. Our favourite varieties are Gladiator F1 and Palace F1 which can be sown from February to May and harvested between October and Christmas Day.
Even though, they can be sown from June onwards, they can be left in the soil over winter and harvest as needed at Christmas. Once the leaves above the surface start to die down, the parsnips are ready to harvest and roasted for the big day!
Sage is a must with your turkey and stuffing, especially during the Christmas period. A hardy perennial plant, the aromatic leaves and flowers make it an attractive addition for your container herb garden. Sage is a slow starter from seed so it’s best to start sowing in April to guarantee Christmas flavour. It is very easy to grow and prefers a well-drained compost with some moisture and can grow in a container placed in either a sunny and shady position.
What is turkey, without cranberry sauce? You can grow this juicy fruit s in large pots, ideally around 12in in size. They prefer acidic soil so it’s best to water with rainwater, fresh from your water butt. Cranberries can be picked around late September to mid-October, so plenty of time to make your jars of cranberry sauce for your Christmas lunch.
Let us know what you plan to grow for next Christmas by tagging us with #gardenesquegarden on your journey.
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