Southam Produce Association
January is probably the coldest period of the winter and coming on top of the floods and heavy rains of just before Christmas it is well worth taking the time to look over the allotment and prioritise the jobs for the month. Top of the list has to be clean up the plot and dispose of all of the damaged and rotten crops. Don’t worry too much about soil preparations for now just concentrate on clearing the way for a February blitz; weather permitting of course. Most of the overwintering vegetables will have suffered under the wet conditions make a list, visit the site shed or garden centres and get in what replacement seeds or bulbs you will need for your immediate needs.
Planting & Sowing
The big problem at this time of year is available light.
There`s nothing to sow or plant ouside but there are a few things you can start off in your green house, Tomatoes and aubergines can be sown.
Onions can be sown in January but unlike tomatoes who like it hot, you want the temperature around or slightly below 15c for onions. Watch out on sunny days, it may be cold outside but the temperature can shoot up in the greenhouse or coldframe.
Protect overwintering vegetables under cloches or fleece. don’t forget to ventilate and allow plenty of fresh air to get in on sunny days. Under the protection winter sunshine temperatures can get as high as on a hot summer’s day.
Pack some straw or fleece around celery to protect it from any damaging frosts but remove it on sunny days to let the plants breathe.
Draw the soil up around the stalks of cabbages and winter cauliflowers to just under the first set of leaves. Check over Brussels sprouts and sprouting broccoli and support them with a strong stake to prevent them from being blown over in high winds.
Take advantage of days when the soil is frozen hard to barrow and stack manure and compost close to where it will be dug in later on. Don’t walk on the soil as it begins to thaw it will be wet and sticky.
If you have any plants or seedlings ticking over in a cold greenhouse cover them with several layers of newspaper on frosty nights but remove it on warm days.
Leeks left standing will be fine whatever the weather but you may find them hard to get out of frozen ground or takin up ground you want to dig or manure. In that case draw a shallow trench, dig up your leeks in good weather and trim the roots. Lay them in the trench at an angle so most of the leek is out of the trensch and cover with loose soil. When you want some, just pull without any strain,
Parsnips and swedes in the ground can come up when you are ready, cover with fleece or straw to stop them freezing solid into the ground.
Kale at least should be available and Brussels Sprouts may well go through to March.