Although this is a month when work on the veg patch slows down considerably, there are still things to be done. It’s also a great time to plan for the following year. So, here are some suggestions to grow your own veg in December.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s a good idea to prepare a plan of your veg beds. Either draw them out on paper or if you’re tech-savy, use a computer.
Take note of the varieties grown, and which beds grow next to each other. This will enable you to rotate crops effectively, because this avoids build-up of pests and diseases.
A reminder of the rotation is legumes, e.g., runner beans, followed by brassicas like cabbage and then root crops such as carrots.
At this time of the year, many seed companies have special offers on packets of veg seeds.
It’s also ideal to look through your existing stock of seeds to check which are still in date. You can then see what you may have surplus of, so you won’t unwittingly increase your stock of them.
In December, it’s still not too late to plant garlic, as long as the soil conditions are right – i.e., not frozen or too soggy.
However, if you have already planted cloves, gently remove and compost any weeds that may be germinating and growing amongst them.
If you have heavy soil and are planning to add more veg growing space for next year’s crops, now can be a good time to make a start on that.
When turning the soil, if it still leaves large clumps, leave them like that so the winter frosts can break them down for you.
Brussels sprouts and parsnips
Both these crops taste much better after they’ve been frosted because this induces a chemical reaction in the plants which turns starch into sugars. Remember that sprout tops are not only edible, but tasty too.
If your sprouts are growing in a windy site, you may have to stake the stems to avoid them being pulled out of the ground by high winds.
When harvesting kale, keep picking the leaves to stimulate production of more.
Pick leaves from the bottom upwards and you should be able to harvest fresh leaves all winter long.
Don’t be tempted to pick the top off the plants as this will stop it growing.
Though the temperatures in your garden may not be as inviting at this time of year, you can still do the odd job in the veg garden this December to keep you busy and warm.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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