The month with the shortest days and the longest nights, we can only hope that December’s daylight hours are cold and crisp with clear blue skies. Such days can be filled with warming winter digging and pruning, plus raking up and bagging the last of the fallen leaves.
Wet days are perfect for planning the garden for 2020, deciding what Dobies seed to sow and grow. It’s also time to tidy up the shed, clean seed trays and pots, sharpen secateurs and clean tools.
Evergreens provide interest in the winter gardens and trees, devoid of leaves, give structure, beauty and a place from which to hang bird feeders. Our feathered garden friends will be hungry this month and appreciative of extra food to help keep warm.
Jobs for December
- 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 Dobies 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 Brussels sprouts will have been frosted and so can now be harvested. Stake or earth up your sprout plants to prevent damage caused by wind rock.
- Keep off the grass in frosty weather. Black footprints are not a good look!
- Check through to ensure that you have all the seeds that you want to sow for 2020 and place a Dobies order for any that are missing. Be brave and try at least 1 new variety – new so often means improved.
It’s official, houseplants are back on-trend. Not surprising really when they are not only decorative, adding colour and interest to a room, but also:
- Increase oxygen levels
- Increase humidity
- Remove toxins from the air
- Keep us healthy. A workplace study in Holland confirmed that adding plants to an office reduces colds, coughs and headaches and there is no reason why the same won’t happen in a home.
The Dobies houseplant range offers both traditional favourites but also a touch of the exotic with some real showstoppers.
- Anthurium Beauty Black – glossy and elegant with purple/black bracts throughout the year.
- Orchid Brassia Summer Dream – multiple spider-like white, brown and green blooms on one stem. You won’t find this little beauty in a supermarket or market stall.
- Calathea Warscewiczii – a spectacular foliage plant with a velvet-like structure and stunning green and pink colour combination.
- Begonia Maculata – narrow olive-green foliage with silver spots and large white flowers.
- Cyperus Haspan – a dwarf papyrus, the grass-like stems with umbrella type florets make this architectural plant truly interesting.
- Guzmania Francesca – a tropical plant with a long-flowering ruby-red bloom, fading to sunny yellow.
Perhaps the most unusual houseplant of all is Lava Plant Davallia. Growing on a chunk of volcanic lava this pretty green fern has the most amazing spider-like hairy legs.
Browse our complete range of houseplants and add colour, texture and scent to your home this Christmas.
From Plot to Plate
The most bitter of the brassica family, Brussels sprouts are either loved or loathed, there is rarely a middle ground. Even if you loathe them, perhaps they are worth just one more try? The trick to a tasty sprout dish is to contrast the bitterness with sweetness, acidity or just to tone it down.
On the stalk, sprouts will stay fresh for a couple of weeks in a cool room but even off the stalk, they’ll sit happily in the fridge for a week.
The worst thing you can do to a sprout is to boil it to death or to overcook it by any method. Boil or steam until just tender but still with crunch and serve tossed in butter and seasoning. Or, slice and fry with or without some bacon lardons with a splash of double cream and perhaps a little flaked chilli being added at the end. Sprouts also roast well. Coat them in olive oil and roast in a hot oven until tender. Then just add butter or a splash of balsamic vinegar and serve.
For a festive tip, however you usually serve your sprouts on Christmas Day, add a few dried cranberries and toasted almonds. And do make sure that you cook too many, as you’ll be wanting bubble and squeak on Boxing Day!
Sprouts are good buddies with:
Chestnuts Hazelnuts Onion Garlic Cream
Butter Blue Cheese Cheddar Lemon Mustard
Balsamic vinegar Parsley Chives Tarragon Honey
Breadcrumbs Pepper Chilli Nutmeg Sage
Butter Bacon Pork Eggs Pasta
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 19 December, earlier (6 December) 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.
Traditionally exhibition onions are sown on Boxing Day. Some classes allow the onions to be grown from sets but for others, they must be grown from seed. And yes, the judges will be able to tell the difference.
Onion Ailsa Craig is the favourite of many experienced exhibitors and is the one recommended by Dobies. Not only are Ailsa Craig onions huge and golden they also have a lovely mild, sweet flavour.
If you’re aiming high then you will need to invest in a heated bench, fluorescent lamps, reflectors, ventilation fans and polytunnels. If, however, your ambitions are more modest, i.e. being placed at the village show, then you won’t need so much equipment and the advice that follows is aimed at helping you, not the big boys.
Using a good seed compost sow your Ailsa Craig seed in a heated propagator, lightly covering with sieved compost. Once the seedlings have germinated place a fluorescent light above them as this will stop them growing leggy and build a “wall” of tinfoil around them to reflect the light.
Once the seedlings begin to straighten out of their crooked stage, pot them on individually into 3” pots. When the roots have filled the pots carefully move them into 1.5-litre pots and support the leaves using short canes and clips. You want them to grow strong and straight. The next step will be to move the plants into 3-litre pots and there they can remain until ready for planting out.
Water your onion plants from the bottom to prevent the bulb from possibly rotting. Don’t worry about feeding at this stage – provided you’ve used good quality compost the plants will be fine.
Once the risk of frost has passed then the onions can be planted out, ideally in a polytunnel or raised bed. Alternatively, if you are really are hungry for that trophy, select about 6 of the strongest plants and put them into their own 20-litre pots, again giving the leaves some support.
Offer of the Month
Plant-O-Tray Bulb Offer: Buy any 4 for just £30 – that’s only £7.50 each!
Planting bulbs made easy! These ready to plant spring flower bulb trays are 100% biodegradable, ready for planting and the perfect solution for beginners and busy people! Simply lay on the compost or soil, cover and water.
Offer details: choose 4 of the same variety or pick and mix across the range. Simply add 4 or more trays to your basket to activate your discount.
Available in a variety of sizes, for beds, window boxes or patio pots. Including this exclusive mix, with a delightful blend of pink and red tulips with white crocus. Perfect for spring colour – buy yours here.
Name these plants (answers shown below):
- Protection for sly hands
- 2cs and sour
- Crazy campanologist in March
- Grown-up chaps on bikes
- Will they fall in the white stuff?
- A strange girl
- Not invited to dance
- Yellow Trumpet
- Don’t play it!
A big thank you to all our customers for your support this year. The team here at Dobies send our very best wishes for the festive season.
Christmas Cracker – answers
- Protection for sly hands – Foxgloves
- 2cs and sour – Crocus
- Eye catching – Iris
- Crazy campanologist in March – Harebell
- Grown-up chaps on bikes – Cyclamen
- Will they fall in the white stuff? – Snowdrops
- A strange girl – Arum Lily
- Not invited to dance – Wallflower
- Yellow Trumpet – Daffodil
- Don’t play it! – Gooseberry