December days are often cold, wet and dark but there remains for some the hope of a Christmas winter wonderland.
Evergreens come into their own this month, not only giving structure and form to the garden but also providing foliage and berries to bring inside and decorate the home. Ivy is perfect for draping over pictures and for twining round banisters and who doesn’t want to “Deck the Halls” with boughs of holly? Just check for bugs before you bring any cuttings indoors, they would be unwanted Christmas guests!
The weather outside may be frightful, but the Dobies 2019 Seed Catalogue is delightful. December is a month for reflection and promise. Reflection on what worked well in the garden during 2018 and promise for the gardening year ahead. So, when the weather confines you to the home, open the catalogue, or browse the website and get planning!
Make the most of any decent weather days by tacking some of the following tasks:
• Carefully brush any snow from shrubs and plants as the frozen weight can otherwise cause breakage and damage.
• 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. You’ll want to start chitting them in the New Year.
• Plant out bare root shrubs, roses and trees and keep them well watered so the roots can spread and establish.
• 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 Brussel sprouts will have been frosted by now and so will be perfect for your Christmas dinner. Do stake or earth up your sprout plants to prevent damage caused by wind rock.
• Keep off the grass in frosty weather. Those black footprints won’t do it any good!
• Check through to ensure that you have all the seeds that you want to sow for 2019 and place a Dobies order for any that are missing. Be brave and try at least 1 new variety – new so often means improved.
Red cabbage is a wonderful winter vegetable, tasting every bit as good as it looks. In the Dobies range we have several different varieties of red cabbage, from pointed to round heads and even including a new and improved variety of red Chinese cabbage. The latter being perfect in salads and stir fries and lacking the bitterness of some red coloured salad leaves such as radicchio.
If you like a pointed cabbage, then Tinty F1 is a must try for 2019. The deep red colour looks fabulous on the plate and the flavour is the same as it’s green pointed cousins.
Red cabbage can be cooked in many ways but is perhaps at its best gently braised until softened and caramelised. Or, combined with white cabbage and coarsely grated mixed root veg, your red cabbage will help to create a rainbow winter coleslaw.
Flavours that work well with red cabbage include:
Game Beef Turkey Onions Shallots Garlic
Nutmeg Cinnamon Ginger Juniper Chilli Apple
Orange Red Wine Soy Sauce Hazelnuts Balsamic Vinegar
Mulled Wine Red Cabbage
A perfect, jewel coloured side-dish with the bonus that it can be made a couple of days in advance and then just gently reheated.
1 small red cabbage – finely shredded
1 orange – juice and zest
½ lemon – juice and zest
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
250ml red wine
2tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil then add the spices and stir for 1 minute.
Add the cabbage, orange zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, sugar and half of the wine.
Stir and then cover and simmer over a low heat for an hour or until softened. Stir every now and again to prevent sticking and add more wine if needed.
Uncover, increase the heat and gradually add the rest of the wine until the cabbage is dark and glossy.
Season to taste.
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 19th December, earlier for personalised items.
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.
December days are the shortest of the year meaning your garden hens will be spending longer than normal in their coops so give them a little extra corn just before shutting-up time and that will keep them going through the long night.
The moult is over, and your garden hens will be laying again by now. Their newly grown feather coats will be keeping them nice and snug and they’ll have a group huddle at night to keep warm. If you do worry about your chickens being cold, then how about investing in a NOFrost Thermal Chicken Coop? it will be so cosy in there that you’ll be wanting to move your bed in!
Plant of the Month
The Christmas Cactus may well be the definitive festive flower! Their masses of blooms in a combination of colours will add colour and brightness to any festivities and will last long into the New Year when the celebrations are over. A stunning mix of easy to care for colourful flowers growing in a single pot that will look amazing anywhere in the home.