Fruit & vegetable growing guide for December
21st December 2021
Naturally, everyone’s attention turns to Christmas and Santa Claus as we enter the month of December and although predicting the winter weather is as hard as predicting the summer weather in the UK, there are normally hard frosts and a fair amount of rain you will have to contend with.
Keen gardeners who have mobility issues meaning they need to use mobility aids such as a curved stairlift or other walking aids will need to be careful when out in their garden as the adverse weather could mean that paths are slippery so it is important to take care.
Although December is a quieter month in the garden, there are still things you can sow and jobs you can do. This guide takes you through what vegetables to plant in December in the UK and what other jobs you can do throughout the month.
Vegetables to plant in December in the UK
Although December is a much quieter month when it comes to planting vegetables, there are still some that you can plant out in your garden and are hardy enough to survive and even thrive during the colder months of the year.
Onions and shallots
You can sow onions and shallots during the month to get a longer growing period and by doing this it should make excellent plants and bulbs. You can use cold frames to keep the onions and shallots under, plant them in a greenhouse or sow them directly into the ground.
Plant Instructions, a site that has easy to follow gardening guides, talk about why onions are great for growing in the winter months.
“Onions just like garlic have a large growing season and like peas, they can withstand snow and super cold weather. There is no need to protect them from snow which makes them perfect for the winter garden. Be careful while planting them since they will still be there when you start your spring garden. Plant popular varieties like Electric and First Early for an abundant harvest.”
Garlic can be planted in December, and it can actually benefit from a period of cold as it encourages growth later the next year.
Garlic doesn’t like to sit in water, so if your garden’s soil is heavy and holds water, you will need to make a hole with an old handle or a stick and then put some sand into the base of the hole before planting the clove on top. You then just need to cover the clove and fill the hole with fine compost to ensure good drainage and avoid the garlic rot.
Gardening experts Thompson & Morgan say that garlic are great vegetables to plant during the winter months.
“Garlic sets are one of the easiest things you can grow over the winter. Simply plant autumn-planting varieties in fertile soil, then mulch, keep moist and harvest in summer.
“If you live in a very cold part of the UK, there are plenty of hardneck varieties that cope well with more severe winter conditions. ‘Extra Early Wight’ is a delicious hardneck that crops very early in the season in late May. And if you live in a milder area, 'Wight Cristo' is a softneck with excellent flavour. For something a bit different, try growing giant 'Elephant Garlic' to provide a gently flavoured accompaniment to roasts. Just pop a few whole bulbs into the tray with your meat or veg.”
You can sow broad beans in December and by doing so you can harvest them as early as May. Sow them direct outdoors if the weather is still relatively mild and the seeds should germinate in about two weeks before they stop growing and enter a dormant stage until temperatures rise during the spring months.
If the weather is exceptionally cold you should plant broad beans beneath cloches or fleece. The other alternative is to sow the seeds in multi-celled trays in a greenhouse or on a windowsill, so you can then plant them out in your garden later.
Pete from the gardening blog Real Men Sow says that broad beans are great overwintering vegetables: “Overwintering is said to be good for warding off blackflies because the plants are older and tougher by the following Spring. I can definitely vouch for that, as my Spring sown broad beans always succumb to blackfly, without fail. And of course, it gives us something to do when the clocks change (and we’re fed up with the football). Sowing seeds at this time of the year is a nice and welcome lift as we settle in for winter.”
The likes of Winter Gem and other types of lettuce have been specially bred for their ability to grow at low temperatures. You can sow them into pots in unheated greenhouses or in a cold frame to get the best results.
Lamb’s lettuce is another variety that has been grown and eaten for centuries in the winter and for these, you can just sow the seeds in a greenhouse and in just a short time can pick the freshly grown leaves.
All the vegetables you can plant in December:
- Onions and shallots
- Broad beans
READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for November
Fruit to plant in December
Many gardeners just think about what vegetables to plant in December in the UK, but there are fruit trees and bushes that you can plant in December too, although you should avoid planting them if the ground is waterlogged or frozen. Read on to find out which fruit trees and bushes you can plant in the festive period.
You can plant raspberry canes in December whilst they are dormant and by planting them now, you should get a tasty crop when summer arrives, depending on the variety you choose.
The Garden Focused website shares their top tips for planting raspberries: “Raspberries are best planted from late autumn to early spring. If the ground is frozen or water-logged, don't plant your raspberries until the soil is workable. Store the canes in a cool position and keep them moist for a few days until conditions change.”
“To plant, dig a trench approximately 25cm (10in) deep by 30cm (1ft) wide. The roots of the raspberry canes should be placed in the trench and spread out. Cover the roots with soil up to the soil level you will see on the stem. Firm the soil down and water well. Individual canes should be spaced about 50cm / 20in apart.”
Although everyone associates strawberries with the summer months, you should seed your strawberry plants now for a crop to arrive in the summer. Some varieties of strawberries have extra-long cropping times, so you’ll need to do your research when it comes to the type of strawberries you want and when you want to harvest them.
Anytime between December and the spring is when you should be planting blackberry plants, but once you just plant them you should not just forget about them.
This is something that Teo Spengler from Gardening Know How says: “You can’t just forget about blackberry bushes in winter. They require care. You need to cut back your blackberries during the cold season. Pruning blackberries in winter is part of blackberry bush winter care.”
Blueberries and other berry fruits
By planting blueberries this winter you will certainly add a bit of colour to your garden as the plants boast pretty white flowers. Just be aware that if your garden’s soil is too alkali, you should try to grow the blueberry plants in containers with compost.
There are also other berry fruits that you can plant in December and during the colder months of the year such as bare-root gooseberries, red, white and black currant plants.
All the fruits you can plant in December:
- Red, white and black currant plants
READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for October
Other gardening jobs to be done in December
Although Christmas Day is just around the corner, there are still lots of jobs you can do in December and if you have mobility issues and need to use aids such as used stair lifts or other walking aids, you can ask a family member or friend to help you carry out some of these jobs.
December is always a good time to turn the compost heap over and to ensure compost bins are covered to prevent excess rain from leaching the nutrients and to keep the heat in. You should also aim to keep your garden tidy to avoid pests making your garden a home for the winter months.
You can also prune fruit trees such as apples, pears, quinces and medlars as well raspberry, gooseberry and red and white currant bushes.
Crops that are ready to be harvested in December
- Brussels Sprouts
READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for August
This article looks at just some of the fruit and vegetables you can plant in December and the jobs you should consider doing during the month. For more tips and blogs like these then head to our news section.
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.