January Grower's Calendar
- If you haven't already done so, you could still spread some manure or compost on your vegetable and fruit beds and cover them down with black polythene to start warming them up for spring sowing.
- Make sure that it's well-rotted manure and be careful not to spread fresh manure in beds which will take root vegetables in the spring.
- If you don't have a compost heap, this is a good time of the year to get one started.
- Timber pallets are a cheap and easy way to build a heap for all your garden waste.
- Consider a compost trench for your legume (peas and beans) bed – bury kitchen waste at a spade's depth and cover with soil.
To do List
- If you have any root vegetables left in the soil, it's probably a good idea to get them out of there now as January-March are months when you get very heavy frosts and inclement weather – so lift anything that might still be in the soil such as parsnips, carrots and celeriac.
- Cover down bare beds with mulch, leaves, compost or polythene.
- Rhubarb is typically the first fresh crop of the spring, particularly if you "force" it now by covering it to exclude any light. Put a layer of straw on top of the dormant plants and then cover with an upturned pot. Tender little stems should be ready to eat in March.
- January is also a good month to split the rhubarb plants if you want to propagate.
- Get organised: start collecting old plastic bottles and containers as cloches and covers, and collect toilet roll inserts to use as pots for sowing.
- Order your seeds and seed potatoes.
Sowing Seeds and Planting Out
Don't be tempted to sow seeds too early. Be patient – it won't be long.
Harvesting – what's in season?
January will be a lean month in your first few years of growing and it requires foresight the previous spring or summer to ensure that you have things worth eating at this time of the year. Perpetual spinach, chard, leeks and kale are the most likely candidates, all of which are very good to eat. You may also have winter cabbage, cauliflowers and some Brussels sprouts left in the ground if you didn't eat them all during Christmas.
Depending on how successful your growing/storage regime last year was, you may well still be tucking in to stores of potatoes, celeriac, carrots, parsnips, onions, cauliflower, jerusalem artichokes, winter squash, pumpkins, leeks and red cabbage. It's also possible to have winter salads like land cress, corn salad and mizuna at this time of the year, particularly in a polytunnel or greenhouse.