The festive season is a highlight of the year for many households, but it can be difficult to reconcile the celebration with a desire to live more sustainably. That’s why Garden Organic is urging gardeners to consider growing some or all of their own organic fruit and veg for next year’s celebration.
Growing your own Christmas veggies will take some impressive pre-planning, as cooks will need to plant leeks, parsnips and cauliflower in March, but growers say the final feast on Christmas day will be more than worth the wait – and much more satisfying too.
Not only will it save money and supermarket stress, but it’s also the most sustainable way to feed a family at Christmas. It will slash the planet-damaging ‘food miles’ (the distance food is transported from the time it is made or harvested until it reaches end customers) and cut out the need for any single-use packaging. What’s more, it gives you something to enjoy on your own or as a family that will keep you gardening throughout the year, an activity that is proven to improve both physical and mental wellbeing.
Sarah Brown, Presenter of the Organic Gardening Podcast at Garden Organic, said; “For many of us, the holiday season is the time of year when we really want to eat like royalty. But we also know it can be stressful and expensive, not to mention the huge environmental impact of transporting popular ingredients hundreds and often thousands of miles just to satisfy our tastes for tradition.
“We’ve created this growing advice for gardeners of all abilities, but there is also an important message behind it. Our mission is to inspire people to follow organic gardening principles which, if more of us join the movement, will create a much better environment – for our families, plants and wildlife.
“We believe that the best option to protect our food supplies, environment, health and wellbeing is to use organic growing methods. These harness the natural cycles and processes that promote plant growth. Growing your own festive feast is a fun and satisfying way to start putting this into practice at home and you can enjoy the rewards with family and friends.”
Sarah Brown added; “There is a bit of forward planning involved but following our handy plan will mean you’re all set for a happy and healthy holiday feast.
“We always love to hear how you’re getting on, and we hope to be tagged into lots of festive foodie photographs on Christmas Day 2022 when we see the colourful menu come to life.”
Garden Organic’s planting schedule spans March – August, after which gardeners can relax until winter knowing that their Christmas food shop is already taken care of.
‘Festive Feast’ Ingredients and how to grow them
|When to sow and where||Where to grow, and care||When to harvest and how to store|
|Parsnips||Early March, outside.||Rich but light soil.||Harvest after first frosts to get maximum sweetness.|
|Leeks||Late March in deep seed tray. Transplant in June/July.||Rich but well drained soil. Individual plants should be 30 cm apart.||Christmas week.|
|Cauliflower||March/April indoors. Pot on outside in May/June.||Rich, well composted soil. Plant deep to support stems, and keep netted to prevent pest attack.||End of November. Curds (heads) will keep up to three weeks if kept cool.|
|Sprouts||April, sow in seed tray. Transplant in early June.||Rich, well composted soil. Plant deep to support long stems, and keep netted to prevent pest attack.||Christmas week.|
|Squash||Christmas week.||Rich soil. Keep well watered throughout the summer.||Before the first frost. Store in dry garden shed.|
|Peas||Sow in May outside.||Rich soil. Be sure to put up supports of twigs or string to support bushy growth.||When pods are bulging and still green. Freeze instantly.|
|Carrot||August, outdoors.||Light soil, not rich. Thin out small plants to leave one carrot every 20 cm.||November. Store in cool box, covered in moist sandy soil.|
|Potatoes||August in a deep container such as a dustbin or recycling box.||Rich and well composted soil. Top up to keep covering leaves as soon as they emerge to protect from frost.||Christmas week.|
|Chard||Late sowing in August.||Rich soil and keep well watered through a dry autumn.||Christmas eve.|