In the summer vegetable garden
The mint and lemon balm are in full swing and both make zingy additions to green salads and hot and cold drinks. Thyme, chives and rosemary liven up a salad dressing. Tomatoes may or may not be ripe by Christmas. New potatoes are definitely ready and the spring-planted carrots are a good spot of orange in the food line-up.
Christmas plums ripen, and the tangelos are sweet and juicy and will provide for many months to come. Limes are almost over, lemons carry on, the strawberries are welcome and hopefully plentiful, while the scarlet runner beans are beginning to be the star attraction of this time. Zucchini will soon settle into their full swing of fruiting and are easy and excellent crowd feeders and pleasers.
It’s time also to think of planting Brussels sprouts, those tasty little brassicas that you either love or hate. There aren’t many fence sitters on sprouts, but if your only experience was as a child, try them again – it was probably very poor cooking methods that made them horrible, not the sprout. Seeds need to be sown in December for these long growing plants and they need assiduous protection against white butterflies and diamond-backed moths with the use of BT spray, or neem oil (which I have yet to try).
They need to be sown in December for transplant in late December to late January but to keep them growing strongly through the dry part of the year means consistent watering. Fertility will probably need a boost or two throughout the growing period, and stakes to tie them to for support also need to go in at planting time to avoid root damage. It’s a long wait for a good feed of Brussels sprouts but it’s well worth it.