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Tuesday 6 December 2022

The Vegetable Plot - December

Chilli in winter

It's surprising what vegetables you can grow in December. Sowing seed now and then again in spring will extend your harvesting season. You might sow outside, directly in the ground or in heated propagators. Chilli peppers and aubergines can be sown any time of the year but you will need a heated propagator and grow lamp to get them going. Winter sown broad beans will give you an early crop in May. At the moment, it is mild enough in most regions to sow seed outdoors where they can germinate in about two weeks. Then they remain dormant until spring brings a rise in temperatures.

Garlic sets will grow outdoors now in mild regions and actually benefit from a period of cold. They don’t, however, like sitting in water, so an inch of sand in the base of the planting hole with the clove on top will give it good drainage. Boxing Day is the traditional day to sow onion seeds, rather than sets, but you will need to start them off indoors in pots or under cover. The young plants can go out in spring. If you have an unheated greenhouse or cold frame, you can sow 'Winter Gem' lettuce seed in pots and it will happily grow at low temperatures. 

There's an entire crop of vegetables in season this month and if you have the space and are really keen, you will have Brussels sprouts, broccoli, celery, parsnips, celeriac, leeks, kale and cauliflower all lined up as Christmas fare. These hardy vegetables will stand through the winter and parsley, chard and rocket will over winter with a little protection. If you're growing under glass, you may have lettuce, endive and chicory, radish and rhubarb to add to your spread. Have a Merry Christmas and a vegetable Happy New Year.

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