Potting up a feast for Christmas

It’s just a couple of months to year end and New Year family fun. Plan now to plant and grow beautiful potted feasts to harvest and share with the people nearest and dearest to you. Just a tray or three of herb and vegetable seedlings, potting soil and a selection of containers – check out your local garden centre for funky colours and designs to brighten up your outdoor garden area – and you’re all set. Choose containers that are large enough to hold one or more full-sized plants and be sure too, that you’ve picked a sunny and easy-to-water spot to place them. Look out for specially designed veggie planters with clip-together stands as a hip-high solution if you’re not able to walk or bend easily.

What to plant

Select seedling six-packs of veggies that will grow close to maturity in the next two or three months – early maturing bush beans, sweet peppers and chilies that look really festive when in fruit, egg plants and potatoes for larger pots. Tuck in low-growing herbs like cress and summer savoury to act as living mulch. For something sweeter, pot up a tray or two of strawberry seedlings.

In the kitchen garden now

Sow seeds or plant out seedlings every week or two to ensure a constant supply of harvestings in the months to come. Add mulch, compost and fertiliser to help the soil help the plants to give of their best.

Recipes

Veggie of the moment is Lettuce – frilled, butterhead, crisp – a leaf for every occasion.

– Frilly reds and greens look as good in the garden as they do garnishing a platter.

– Use soft butter lettuce leaves to roll parcels of chicken or egg mayonnaise salad in a low-carb wrap. These leaves can take a little warmth so layer three or four to wrap and eat slightly cooled stir-fry.

– The dark green outer leaves of iceberg lettuces make the most delicious of soups for a rainy day lunch. Chop and sweat gently with butter, onion and a handful of fresh herbs – dill, chervil, chives... Cover with chicken stock and milk, simmer, cool, smoosh in the blender and pour back into the pan. Simmer again, season to taste and add a good glug of cream just before serving.

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