We have to be honest, December isn’t a great time for planting much in the ground as it’s often too cold and certainly there’s not much daylight around for anything to get established. Anything that you can buy commercially that’s in flower or growing at this time of year will probably have been brought on by the grower using additional heat and light to spring it into action. Most of us don’t have those sorts of resources to hand!
If you do want to be thinking about plants at this time of year, we have three alternative suggestions. Firstly, there are a few seeds you could be sowing now. Many will do just as well – or even better – if you wait until January but, if you have somewhere to keep them protected once they have germinated, why not give it a try? See our tips below. Secondly, now is a great time to plan your planting for next year and for buying seeds ready to sow in the new year. Finally, why not focus on houseplants? Most gardeners tend to focus on what we’re growing outdoors so now is a great time of year to think about what we have in the house. And we have just refreshed our stocks of houseplants in Centre if you fancy something new. Take a look at some of our plant highlights here.
Did you know that Boxing Day is traditionally the day to sow onion seeds, indoors of course? You’ll notice that’s seeds, not onion sets, though. And they are not the only thing you can get a head start on. Hambrooks have over 200 varieties of vegetable, herb and flower seeds in stock, so here is our (short) guide to what you can happily sow now. (Check our seed sowing calendars for flowers, herbs and vegetables here.)
November is a great time to sow broad beans but you can still sow them in December if you like. Sown now, early broad bean crops can be harvested as early as May next year. If it’s still mild, sow them directly in the soil now. They should germinate and start growing but will stop and become dormant if we get a cold spell. This is normal and they will start growing again when temperatures rise again in the spring.
Some cultivars of lettuce have been bred for their ability to germinate and grow at low temperatures, potentially providing a salad harvest all year round. ‘Winter Gem’ is one example. Lamb’s Lettuce isn’t actually a lettuce at all, just a leafy green, but it’s naturally suited to growing and cropping in the winter and is a ‘cut and come again’ variety. You can sow lettuce seeds in pots in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame now.
Some gardeners are fans of sowing sweet peas early but it doesn’t suit everyone. If you’re going to give it a try, make sure you have somewhere frost-free to keep them once they have started growing as all those juicy roots and leggy top growth will be very susceptible to the cold. They also like a good root run so one seed in the top of a kitchen-roll inner tube full of compost should see them through the winter with minimal root disturbance when it’s time to plant them out.