Feature

Planting for Christmas

Green Lifestyle

Make the silly season a little less silly by enjoying home-grown produce from your own garden with a bit of prep right now.

xmas-plants

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Seeds to Sow

Lettuce:
Plant a loose leaf variety which will be ready in time for Christmas Day around most parts of Australia. You could also choose a compact mini-cos like 'Little Gem". Leaves can be picked as required from the outside of the plant. Lettuce requires a well-drained soil that's rich in humus. Sow direct into your garden bed 25 cm apart and keep up the moisture – especially in hot weather.

Radish:
These are a great first crop for kids to grow, as the seedlings emerge in about two days, they're easy to grow, and the surprisingly bright red bulb of the plant can be pulled out and harvested in about 5–6 weeks. Sew seeds at about three times the diameter of the seed about 4 cm apart. Raw, thinly-sliced rounds add a festive twist to green salads.

Rocket:
Prefers a cool, damp, humus-rich soil. Water regularly or else the foliage will become tough and very course-textured with a strong, rough flavour. Sow seeds 6 mm deep directly into garden beds and cover lightly with mulch. Responds well to a decent pruning for the fresh young leaves that have the best flavour. Remember that the flowers of rocket pack a tasty punch, so if your rocket bolts to seed, just add the flowers into your salads too!

Seedlings to Plant

Sweet and Purple Basil:
Pesto bruschetta entrée, anyone? Perfect for growing in pots on a hot patio, plant basil seedlings 15 cm apart in rich garden compost-rich soil and make sure to pinch out the bushy tips to encourage bushiness and delay flowering. Check plants for slugs regularly! Crush eggshells around the base of the plant as snails and slugs don't like crawling over their sharp egdes.

Parsley:
You've never tasted tabbouleh as good as when you've grown it in your garden, but even just a few leaves at a time make a great addition to any salad. Grows well in deep pots full of compost-rich soil placed in full sun. Plant out when seedlings have four true leaves and water deeply. Parley will run to seed if it becomes dry, so keep well watered.

Cherry tomato:
You've left it a little late in the year to plant tomatoes if you want to be enjoying a crop before the end of this year so choose quite mature seedlings from your local nursery that already has flowers, and perhaps even green fruit. Make sure to plant seedlings in fine soil 50 cm – 1 metre apart depending on the variety with the stems buried up to the lower leaves to encourage the stem to turn to roots and help things along. If you are growing them in pots add a good handful of chicken manure pellets into the pot before you plant them, and feed them often with a good liquid fertiliser.

Top tip: Planting a day or two after the New Moon (the next is on 22 November) will ensure maximum growth for green leafy plants, but for a new tomato bush, it's best wait until just after the First Quarter Moon (the next on 29 November) before planting.