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We’re bang in the middle of summer, and Christmas should be the last thing on our minds... unless you’re a gardener! In late July and early August there’s still time to put a few veg in the ground, ready to reap the rewards of a homegrown dinner come Christmas.
Here are the top vegetables you can plant out now for a festive feast, but don’t hang around – these Christmas staples need maximum time to do their thing.
Adding a vibrant splash of colour and some epic flavour to your Christmas spread, red cabbage seeds can go in the soil this month, ready for a winter crop. Sow directly outdoors and keep them well watered while they sprout. Once your plants have grown three or four leaves, plant them out 30cm apart, where you’d like them to grow. Within several weeks of planting out, your cabbages should be nicely developed – well in time for Christmas, and even a practice run!
Whether squashed and roasted with chestnuts, or shredded and fried with sage, sprouts are pretty much guaranteed on most Christmas tables. The perfect time to sow Brussels sprouts from seed is actually in March and April. But fear not, this means that by mid-summer you should still be able to buy young sprout plants that can then be planted out in their permanent positions. Space your plants out 60cm apart in a sheltered and sunny spot. Water every 10 to 14 days, and watch these tasty Christmas gems develop into great tall spears of sprouts.
BEETROOTS, CARROTS AND TURNIPS
Give your root vegetables even more love and attention this year, for a truly special Christmas megamix of roast veg. Early August is the last chance to transplant carrot seedlings in containers or open soil – watch out for the common ‘carrot fly’ pest – and if you’re lucky you’ll have a harvest in time for December. Beets can be happily sown in late July and just into August, but make sure you keep them well-watered. And this is the perfect time to sow maincrop turnips – if you get them in the ground now you should have a good crop of neeps to roast, come Christmas Day!
For more handy grow-your-own tips, check out our ultimate guide to growing herbs at home, and have a look at the six best veg to grow in your garden.