Depending on whether you go by the meteorogical or astronomical calendar, winter will arrive on either the 1st or the 21st of December. Some parts of the country saw snow in November whilst here in Devon I’m typing this with the back door wide open to a glorious sunny afternoon. However, winter will definitely arrive across the whole of the UK this month. As, of course, with Christmas!
December is the time to prune fruit trees and on a dry day to do some digging, ahead of the winter frosts. A cold and frosty world looks wonderful from the warmth of a house but do spare a thought for the garden birds. They’ll be seeking shelter in your shrubs and bushes and will depend on you putting out food and fresh water. Your reward will be watching their antics and in knowing you’ve helped them to survive.
Our top ten recommended tasks for December include:
- Cut autumn raspberries back to ground level.
- Have you ordered your seed potatoes yet? If not, then look at our range and place your order whilst there’s still a good selection of varieties available.
- Plant out bare root shrubs, roses and trees.
- If you’ve been forcing bulbs for an indoor display then now is the time to bring them inside to a well-lit, cool spot.
- Parsnips and Brussels will have been frosted by now and so will be perfect for your Christmas dinner. Do stake or earth up your Brussells sprouts to prevent damage caused by wind rock.
- Keep raking up any remaining fallen leaves and bag them to make leaf mould. Its a wonderful soil conditioner and its free!
Parsnips are at their best this month, once we’ve had a few hard frosts to sweeten them up. Parsnip seed may not be the easiest to germinate but once they get going parsnips grow really well in our climate and we’ve been eating them for centuries. There’s even an old country saying “Fine words butter no parsnips”, in other words, “actions speak louder than words.”
Parsnips are wonderful chopped into chunks and added to casseroles, creamed and added to mash, turned into richly sweet soups and of course are perfect roasted. Delia’s method of parboiling the parsnips and rolling them in a dusting of seasoned flour and parmesan prior to roasting is a real gem. Alternatively just roast them with other veg and serve with coucous.
Flavours that work well with parsnips include:
Hard Cheese Apple Butter Cream Nuts
Nutmeg Cumin Turmeric Mustard Thyme
Houmous Bacon Venison Orange Honey
You will need:
500g peeled and chopped parsnips
1 crushed garlic clove
50g toasted flaked almonds
30g fresh white breadcrumbs
Juice of half a lemon
40ml olive oil
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Put the parsnips and milk in a pan and slowly bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the parsnips are soft. Strain through a sieve, reserving the milk. Blend the parsnips in a food processor, with a splash of the milk, until smooth. Stir in the almonds, breadcrumbs, garlic and nutmeg. Add the olive oil and blend. Finally, stir in the lemon juice and season to taste. Serve with toasted pitta bread.
Christmas Gifts for Gardeners
Visit our website for a wide range of gifts for the gardener in your life. What can be better than selecting gifts from the warmth of your home and having them delivered to your door? You’d better be quick though – the last order date for guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery is 15th December.
If you are stuck for an idea and want to allow the lucky person to choose their own gift, then how about a Dobies Gift voucher? Choose from our attractive gift cards and personalise with your own message.