What's in season? The best fruit and vegetables to grow in December

Five-a-day fans, here's our pick of what to grow and sow in December for a bumper winter crop

A raised vegetable bed in a snowy cottage garden in December
(Image credit: Future PLC/Photoworld Ltd)

On the hunt for the best fruit and vegetables to grow in December? We applaud your can-do attitude to the timeless grow your own trend, quite frankly – and we're here to help you make your wintry 5-a-day dreams a reality.

We know that it's cold and dreary outside – and we know you're likely far more busy sussing out how to protect plants from killer frosts than you are planning and planting edimentals in your garden. 

Still, there are plenty of tasty fruit and vegetables that positively thrive in this cold weather. Fact.

The best fruit and vegetables to grow in December

'If you want to continue gardening throughout the winter season, December is a great time to plant some cold-hardy vegetables perfect for an early harvest next year,' says Claire Hooper, plant area manager at Hillier Garden Centre in Winchester.

Chickens in a vegetable patch

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes Photography)

Now, you might suspect that you're restricted to growing Christmas herbs at this time of year, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Indeed, award-winning garden designer Zoe Claymore, who has just been named ambassador for the National Allotment Society, says there are plenty of fruit and vegetables to grow in December – especially if you're willing to think outside the box.

Zoe Claymore - headshot
Zoe Claymore

Zoe Claymore is a multi award-winning garden designer based in London. She focuses on creating outdoor places with emotional connection and ecological integrity for her private and commercial clients.

With that in mind, then, here's our expert-approved pick of the best fruit and vegetables to grow in December for a bumper winter crop.

You're very welcome.

1. Rhubarb crowns

Rhubarb plants in a winter garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Counted among the best fruit and vegetables to grow in December for a reason, Zoe says now is absolutely a great time of year to plant dormant rhubarb crowns (pieces of root with a bud at the top).

'Whilst you should leave them for a growing season or two to establish before you start harvesting, now is the time to put these into your garden,' she explains.

'In future, you will be rewarded with an early spring crop of delicious rhubarb.'

Where to buy rhubarb crowns:

2. Broad beans

Broad bean seedling growing in a vegetable garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Broad beans are one of the many fantastic vegetables that you can grow in December,' promises Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries.

Not to be confused with runner beans as the right time to sow runner beans comes around April and May time.

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants, which he established after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex in 1992.

'If conditions are particularly cold, try to sow your broad beans into pre-warmed soil and then cover them with a cloche from Amazon,' he continues. 

'In more mild temperatures, though, you can sow them directly outdoors!' 

Morris adds that Aquadulce Claudia is a 'very hardy broad bean variety, so absolutely perfect for sowing in December'. Consider us sold!

Where to buy broad bean seeds:

3. Garlic

Garlic that has been freshly harvested from a vegetable garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wondering how to grow garlic? We have excellent news for you: it's incredibly easy and it's one of the best fruit and vegetables to grow in December, so you can set to work on making all your vampire repelling dreams come true.

'Planting garlic in December guarantees you a fresh, homegrown supply by the following summer,' says Claire, noting that it is a 'hardy vegetable that thrives in colder temperatures, so you won’t need to worry about keeping the plant alive during colder weather spells'.

'Planting at this time of year allows the cloves to have an extended growing period which can improve its overall quality and taste,' she continues. 

'Frost splits garlic into cloves which is another reason it is best to grow them over winter. It’s easy to propagate too as you can use a bulb you already have from the supermarket.'

Where to buy garlic bulbs:

4. Bare-root fruit trees

Plum tree growing in a fruit orchard

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Learning how to plant bare root trees is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to grow your own fruit, and Zoe says now is the time to get to work – not least of all because the winter rains mean they wont need watering until at least early spring.

'We are in the bare root / dormant season so not only will these trees and shrubs be cheaper, they are more sustainable too,' she says. 

'Bare rooted plants also tend to be a bit hardier and establish better, so it's a win-win. I’m going to be planting a malus tree on my plot this December as well as some fruit bushes.'

Some examples of the bare-root fruit trees and bushes you might consider planting are:

  • Apple
  • Blueberry
  • Pear
  • Blackcurrant
  • Apricot
  • Gooseberry
  • Peach
  • Lingonberry
  • Cherry
  • Plum
  • Redcurrant
  • Quince
  • Medlar

Where to buy bare-root fruit trees and bushes:

5. Winter greens

Winter greens covered in snow in a vegetable garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We're absolutely in bleak midwinter mode, so it makes sense that winter greens are counted among the best fruit and vegetables to grow in December.

'Now is the perfect time to sow winter greens, such as lettuce, mustard greens and corn salad (also called Lamb’s Lettuce),' says Morris. 

'The Winter Gem variety of lettuce is the best to sow in December,' he continues, adding that 'corn salad and Winter Gem lettuce should continue to grow throughout colder weather'.

'Mustard greens may become dormant if the temperature gets too cold,' he adds, 'but don’t worry, because they’ll continue to grow once the cold spell is over.'

Where to buy winter greens:

6. Onions and leeks

Onions growing in a vegetable garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Winter is the best time of year for growing onions and leeks,' says Morris. 

'If you want to sow onion and leek seeds in December, it’s best to sow them indoors and keep them on a windowsill with lots of sunshine. Once the colder weather has passed, you can then plant your onions into a sunny spot with well-drained soil.'

If you fancy a fun post-Christmas activity, he adds that onions and leeks are traditionally planted on Boxing Day for the earliest crops and largest prize-winning specimens. 

Where to buy onion and leek seeds:


What fruits grow in December in the UK?

It's a good idea to plant bare-root fruit trees and bushes in the winter months, but it's also worth remembering that 'December is the perfect time to sow seeds extracted from berries,' according to Morris. 

'Some of the best berries to sow from seed in December are blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, he says. 

If you’re extracting seeds from berries you’ve grown yourself, he says it's important to:

1. Ensure you choose the ripest berries from a healthy plant

2. Run the berries under a cold tap until you wipe away the skin and flesh

3. Sow the seeds into a gritty compost and water regularly

'If you don’t want to sow from seed, December is also the best time to plant bare-root berry plants such as gooseberries,' he adds. 

'It is also ideal for planting rhubarb plants and raspberry canes. If you’re planting raspberry canes, ensure they’re dormant.'

What veg seeds can I sow in December?

There are plenty of veg seeds to grow in December, including garlic, broad beans, winter greens (like lettuce and mustard greens), onion and leek seeds.

What are the best fruit and vegetables to grow in winter?

As well as the veg seeds listed above, you can also plant a variety of bare-root fruit trees and bushes in your garden over the winter, not to mention rhubarb crowns and seeds you've harvested from berry plants.

Most important of all, though, is to take the time to plan for the year ahead.

'Now is absolutely the perfect time to make structural changes for your growing season,' says Zoe, insisting it's important to 'plan plan plan'.

'I’m working on my allotment right now, taking time to prepare raised beds for winter, and sharing how to organise your planting space in a How To Plan Your Plot series.'

Try to do the same as Zoe and 'take the time to work out what you want to grow, how many you can fit in, and order your seeds (if needed now)'.

So, there we have it: there are plenty of fruit and vegetables to grow in December!

Time to wrap up warm, then, and get planting: you'll be grateful you put the effort in come spring harvest time...

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.