How to grow your own Christmas dinner

With supply shortages top of everyone's minds this festive season, here are some tips for growing your own Christmas dinner at home. 

Supply shortages are the subject on everyone’s lips—from chicken and beer to the petrol craze that has been sweeping the nation, supply chain issues have been wreaking havoc for consumers.

Now, as we move firmly into the autumnal period, some eager shoppers are already panic buying their Christmas food shop to avoid losing out, as turkey sales soar by 400 per cent.

Although you can’t control what will and won’t be hitting supermarkets this winter, there are perhaps some gardening decisions that might make your life a little easier come next 25 December. The Greenhouse People are here to tell you how to grow your own festive feast.

Read more: How to have a financially savvy Christmas

 

Brussels sprout

grow sprouts

The marmite of the Christmas dinner—but love them or loathe them, we can all accept they’re a classic.

While you may have missed the boat this year, get a head start for next year to avoid any more disappointment. Sow your sprouts outdoors in March and plant out in May to get your sprouts ripe and ready for November, when Sunday roast season begins.

Choose a sunny spot, sheltered from windy weather. Water well before and after re-planting, and when the time comes, collect the lower sprouts first by simply snapping them off.

Read more: Advance guide to Christmas dinner

 

Parsnips

Parsnips

Perfectly roasted, covered in honey and mustard, this side dish is often a family favourite. If you’re familiar with growing the common carrot, you should hopefully find the process of growing and harvesting parsnips to be fairly simple.

Start off in April for the best results, potting in open, well-lit spots. Spread the seeds thinly (with intervals around 15cm) and keep the soil evenly moist at all times. When you reach the autumn, get ready to pull your parsnips firmly out of the ground. Use a garden fork to initially ease, then continue to pull.

 

Potatoes

potatoes
Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

Growing your own potatoes, specifically for Christmas, is all about the timing. Potatoes can be grown almost all year round, so simply plant them a little later than you usually would to enjoy them over the festive period.

Save some tubers from summer, leaving them in a light, cool place so they can begin to sprout, ready for delayed planting. Go for fast-maturing varieties, planting them in pots or bags full (about two-thirds) of compost so you’re able to move them inside, perhaps to a shed or greenhouse, when the air gets frosty.

Add potatoes over the compost, then blanket a little more compost over the top of them. Potatoes like fairly moist soil, so water well but allow to drain. Let the sprouts appear naturally in a sunny spot, then when they do add a little more compost and repeat throughout the process to prize out your taters.

 

Cranberries

cranberries
Photo by Marina Khrapova on Unsplash

The perfect pairing for our main dish is the cranberry sauce. The turkey is complimented by their sweet, tart flavour, so create a point of pride and try to make yours from scratch.

They are a long-lasting, spreading plant, so take the time to choose whether you want to grow lowbush or highbush. Cranberries are best planted in winter, so purchase your starters ahead of time from a local supplier. Or better yet, take a free cutting from a cranberry-growing friend.

Water the bed thoroughly before growing, leaving it to drain a little. Place plants around 12 inches apart, and water again after potting.

 

Carrots

carrots
 

Likely the planting journey we are most familiar with is the lifecycle of the humble carrot. These versatile veggies are a staple for any roast dinner, so are essential for your Christmas plate.

Sow your seeds in the earlier half of the year, generally from around February to July, harvesting towards the winter. The later you’d like to harvest, the later you should sow, considering that carrots take around 12-16 weeks to fully form.

Carrot seeds are widely available—you can get these from your local garden centre with ease to kickstart your journey. They grow best in good light and fertile soil, sowing seeds thinly in deep rows fairly far apart.

 

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