December 2017 Newsletter

Well it’s that time again. The run up to Christmas can be a stressful affair so the vegetable patch is the perfect escape to get away from it all.

Cold temperatures on the cards so  it’s time to stock up and check supplies of horticultural fleece, polytunnels and cloches so you don’t get caught out with a damaging frost.

The staff at  Marshalls use this time of year to plan next year’s crops, choosing exciting varieties to fill the larder come the summer/ autumn with home grown produce.

We hope you have a great Christmas and enjoy the festive period with your great-tasting crops.


Jobs to do now...


Dig and manure heavy soil

Grab a spade and turn the soil in the parts of your vegetable patch that are free of crops. Turn over the soil and incorporate some good nutritious and airy compost like Dalefoot Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. You need not chop up the soil too vigorously; the frost over winter will break down the clumps naturally and over a controlled period of time.



Check small poytunnels and cloches for weeds

A good hoe like the Marshalls Great Little Weeder is the perfect tool to get rid of weeds around your prize crops. Remove cloches and tunnels temporarily to remove weeds around those crops you are giving winter protection like strawberries and cauliflowers.  




Prune apple and pear trees

Check the growing habit of your garden apple and pear trees. With just a pruning saw and a pair of secateurs remove branches that grow into the centre of the tree, are damaged or dead. Treat pruning cuts with a timely Winter Wash and Prune & Seal so your trees quickly recover.




Sow hardy peas

Enjoy succulent and sweet tasting peas in your own garden as early as May when you sow hardy peas in December. Suitable to start growing now if you live in built-up or mild areas but for more exposed areas leave off sowing until spring next year if you live in an exposed area. We recommend you sow around 5cm (2in) apart and protect under cloches.  



Move mini cauliflowers to coldframes

For a tasty crop of mini cauliflowers next summer sow cauliflower seeds now into modules and germinate in a propagator at 20-25°C (68-77°F). Harden off over winter the seedlings when they have around three or four leaves by placing them in a coldframe. Ventilate the coldframe by day.




Extra-flowering sweet peas for next year

December is your last chance to sow sweet peas seeds, stick them in a propagator to germinate well and then over-winter for plants to position outside in early spring.

This steals a march on sowing in spring as you get flowers much earlier to enjoy for much longer whether you grow them in your garden or cut them to put in a vase to enjoy the scent indoors.

 See all our sweet pea seeds


This root vegetable tastes lovely when home-grown, especially when harvested after a cold spell. Subtle and smooth in flavour and texture parsnips are a lovely addition to the kitchen garden and ready to harvest when fewer vegetables are available.

Parsnip GladiatorRoyal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit for generous large roots

Parsnip HamburgWith nutty flavour, best flavour when roasted.

Parsnip PearlFor uniform slender roots, easy to slice or grate


Recipe of the month


Parsnip Soup - to serve up to 4 people!

A great tasty recipe to warm you up through the autumn and winter. Try it with a warm crusty loaf sliced thickly and dipped in, it's delicious and satisfying.

Prepare in 30 minutes


3 home-grown parsnips thinly sliced

1 small carrot thinly sliced

1 clove garlic

1 small onion

¼ teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon grated ginger

½ stick celery

30g butter

500ml chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Crème fraiche to taste

Ground nutmeg to taste


Melt butter in a saucepan and fry off the onion, garlic, carrot, ginger, celery and thyme over 10 minutes on a medium heat or until onion has softened.

Add parsnips and the stock and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes.

Make the soup into a puree and add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Thin soup with water if that’s to your liking or thicken with crème fraiche for a soup with more body.


Pest and disease watch


Apple and pear canker

This fungal disease affects the bark of tree trunks and branches. It noticeable when parts of the wood are sunken, often around pruning cuts. If the disease completely surrounds the trunk it is enough to kill your prize fruit trees.

Avoid disease infection when pruning trees by applying with a tree wash such as Prune & Seal which keeps the exposed cut protected from outside bacteria and fungus.



Christmas is coming- the goose is getting fat…

Enjoy gift ideas from Marshalls for the home-growing enthusiast in your life. We’ve got lots of tools that make great gifts for easy gardening, new Dalefoot composts and fruit trees for life. Plus much, much more.

If they would like to choose for themselves our gift vouchers make the perfect gift.





New tomato Gardening Delight variety available at Marshalls

Marshalls brings you a new tomato in the range. This improved variety on much-loved Gardener’s Delight. Now tangier than the older variety, Gardening Delight boasts huge trusses of cocktail cherry tomatoes much like the older Gardener’s Delight, but less erratic and unpredictable in growth.