Growing your own Christmas dinner

Posted: Friday 27 December 2013
by Kate Bradbury

I’ve no idea what I’ll be doing for Christmas next year, but I’m determined to grow some veg to eat on Christmas Day.

My home-grown contribution to the Christmas meal this year was some mint to make a mint sauce. I had the foresight to bring the pot of mint indoors in autumn, so there were just enough leaves to constitute a harvest. I know mint sauce isn’t a traditional accompaniment to Christmas dinner, but I’m vegetarian so I can break the rules. It’s my nut roast and I’ll have mint sauce with it if I want to.

I’ve no idea what I’ll be doing for Christmas next year, but I’m determined to grow some veg to eat on Christmas Day. Even if it’s just one parsnip.

I’ve only grown parsnips twice before, but on both occasions I got a large, good crop. It’s often advised to sow parsnip seed as early as February, but this can lead to poor germination rates, especially if you have a heavy soil. Parsnip seed is notoriously difficult to germinate. Only the freshest seed grows, so I want to give mine the best possible chance. I’ll sow mine in March but – because my soil is too shallow to grow root crops in the ground – this time I’ll be growing the parsnips in containers.

I’m a bit apprehensive about growing crops in containers. You have to pay so much attention to the amount of nutrients available to the plants – it’s all a bit high maintenance for me. But the advantages of growing in pots include being able to control what the plants grow in – parsnips grow best in light soils – and you can sieve the compost/soil mix to remove any lumps or stones that would otherwise cause the roots to fork.

I’ll grow them in a large tub trug with drainage holes drilled in the bottom. I’ll add a mixture of sieved garden soil, home-made compost and multi-purpose compost, and sow the seeds direct. The old boys at my old allotment taught me to sow radish seed with the parsnips to ‘mark the line’. The theory is that, because parsnips are often slow and unreliable at germinating, the radishes will pop up quickly so you can see where you’ve sown the parsnips. This means you can weed around your crop without accidentally removing it.

I won’t have such problems with my little tub trug of parsnips, but there’s nothing wrong with a catch crop of radishes, so I’ll sow these too. After the radish I might grow a summer crop of leaves in the tub trug. It’s going to be a long wait until next Christmas.

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archiepem 30/12/2013 at 17:01

i froze some broad beans runners and french beans . carrots and peas late summer and put some spuds in deep tubs in a frost free place and cover with compost

BobTheGardener 30/12/2013 at 17:07

I had parsnips, carrots, two types of potato, brussels, savoy cabbage, leeks and squash, all fresh from the garden (well, apart from the squash which was stored in the conservatory.)  Lovely it was too!   Pity I don't have room to keep poultry or I would have grown everything on the plate.

archiepem 30/12/2013 at 17:10

had fish i had  caught  . some time ago  not for christmas lunch  though

KEF 30/12/2013 at 17:12

Sprouting brocolli from garden along with our leeks & apple sauce from eating apple tree, just added a squirt of lemon juice.

oldchippy 30/12/2013 at 17:22

Just been down the garden centre for a packet of turkey seeds but they don't come in until the end of January!!!

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