"Cooking a big meal is something that brings us together, especially at Christmas time. But, how often do you follow a recipe card by going to the supermarket to purchase your ingredients?"
Fay McFarlane, Outreach Executive, Mediaworks
Cooking a big meal is something that brings us together, especially at Christmas time. But, how often do you follow a recipe card by going to the supermarket to purchase your ingredients? This article will show you how to remove that stressful element from your Christmas route by showing you how you can grow your own veg for Christmas dinner. All you need is a green thumb and a selection of gardening seeds.
A Christmas dinner isn’t a Christmas dinner without parsnips. Fortunately, this root veg doesn’t need much maintenance and can be left in soil until you want to eat them. If you’ve grown carrots before then you shouldn’t have too much trouble growing parsnips. It’s recommended to sow your parsnip seeds around March to May. Sow them half an inch deep and 15cm apart and water regularly.
While growing your own carrots, soil quality is extremely important as this determines the quality of your carrots. Make sure you remove stones and hard lumps of soil by raking through it until it’s powdery and fine. If this is hard to achieve, add sand or grow your carrots in a deep container. The effort you put in before sowing your seeds will pay off when you harvest them. Don’t fertilise your soil with manure because this can be too rich an environment for your carrots to grow. They need loose, airy soil to grow well.
The spring months, such as March to April is a good time to soften the soil and sow your carrots. Although carrot seeds are small, sow them very thinly to avoid pests. Make sure they are in a sunny area with partial shade. Water regularly and harvest when the leaves start to die down.
As well as parsnips, potatoes are a staple food for a fantastic Christmas dinner - whether they’re roasted, mashed or boiled, a Christmas dinner isn’t the same without them. And you don’t need a huge garden to enjoy your own spuds — just enough space in a large pot about 30cm deep with drainage holes. Potatoes should ideally be planted in between February to May depending on which variation you decide on.
Remember to ensure you fill the pot a third of the way with multi-purpose compost. Place seed potatoes about 30cm part. Place side facing up which has the most sprouts. Fill the pot about halfway up with the compost, then add water. Make sure you leave the seed potatoes in a warm, sunny area. Keep adding compost to cover the stems as they grow, until the pot is full.
During the summer months mid-August, stems will turn yellow and flowers should bloom. This indicates what is going on under the soil and that the potatoes are ready to be harvested.
Growing your own brussels sprouts can take up quite a bit of space. Sprouts need a little bit more love and attention to pay off. Plant your sprouts around March to April time so that these Christmas gems can grow in time. Sow your seeds half an inch deep, 60cm apart in a partially sheltered spot and water regularly. Try not to let them get dehydrated or they’ll shrivel.
A good trick is to ensure the compost doesn’t allow the sprouts to rock in the wind — they flourish when they haven’t been disturbed. You can stake each plant with a bamboo stick or piece of twine for peace of mind. When they’re ready, they’ll be knee high and should produce 30 or more sprouts.
Hopefully by Christmas 2020, your garden will be full of homegrown veg ready to harvest and eat.