December in the Veg Patch

Well, we’ve already had some snow here in Cornwall, and now we are into December. It tends to be a wet and windy time in the veg garden, and no doubt there will be frosts, hail and more snow, but hopefully there will be plenty for you to harvest, from celeriac and parsnips, to sprouts and cabbages.

brussels sprouts

What to harvest

If you planted up a load of roots and brassicas in June/July then they should be ready to harvest this month. Celeriac, sprouts, leeks and parsnips planted earlier in the year should be ready soon as well, as well as turnips planted in early autumn.

If you are growing winter salads and leaves they are likely to be harvestable now as we’ve had a relatively mild autumn. Pick regularly and use them as cut & come again to keep them going for a few more weeks. You can also cut tatsoi and pak choi as cut & come again – just make sure you leave a few baby leaves in the centre of the plant.

Top tips:

  • Pick sprouts from the bottom of the stalk upwards, only as many as you need, leaving the rest to grow on the stalk (or harvest an entire stalk)
  • If it starts to turn cold and frosty, it’s a good idea to pull up some of your parsnips, leeks and celeriac (and any other roots) before the ground gets too hard and heel them in (see separate blog post below)

Garden jobs

  • Make sure empty beds are covered (ideally with a layer of well rotted manure, sheet of cardboard or black polythene) as this will help to improve the soil and warm it for planting potatoes in early spring.
  • Add a mulch to plants that are currently growing to protect them from colder, wetter weather.
  • Collect fallen leaves to make a leaf mould (just pop them all in a compost bin, or in old compost bags for the next 12 months or so)
  • Cover tender plants with horticultural fleece to keep them frost free.
  • Keep the garden clear of debris as this will greatly reduce the number of slugs and other pests that you have to contend with!
  • Be aware that mild weather will have allowed rats and other rodents to flourish, so take steps to keep numbers down – don’t leave food sources (bird food, harvested crops etc), and nesting materials (like straw) lying around the veg patch.

What to Plant

Later in the month, or possibly in January (as things are a little slow winding down into winter dormancy this year) we will be shipping bare-rooted soft fruit, bare-rooted tree fruit and strawberry runners for winter planting. It’s a good time to get them planted, and also makes for a nice weekend project on a crisp winters’ day after Christmas!