Outdoor

What vegetables you should plant in your garden this January

Enjoy bounties from your kitchen garden this year by using our easy planting guide. Discover the best veges to harvest, plant and sow this January

What vegetables you should plant in your garden this January

+ If capsicum seedlings are starting to produce flowers, they can be planted out into the garden. Position in a warm, sheltered spot or use cloches to keep plants toasty and therefore more productive for the first few weeks.

+ Cabbage seedlings can be planted in most areas throughout the year, although in frost-prone areas they will need protection with frost cloth or cloches. A sunny site is best with moisture-retaining, reasonably fertile soil. Cabbages are members of the brassica family and ideally you should not plant brassicas in the same garden bed two seasons in a row as this increases the likelihood of pests such as cabbage worms and aphids building up.

+ Heat-loving eggplants need very warm weather to produce fruit and this can take a while as they have a long growing season. In many areas it will be too late, but if you live in a warmer region (or have a greenhouse) you can still give it a try. Large pots in a warm part of the garden could also be another option. Seedlings must be well established (8-10 weeks old) and soil fertile and well drained. Feed and water regularly, especially when fruit is set.

Harvest

+ Nothing can beat the taste of new potatoes with both the smaller, early varieties and some of the larger crop potatoes ready to harvest around 2-3 weeks after flowers have died down. Use your hands rather than a spade to avoid slicing into tubers; loosen hard soil with a fork first. If the wet winter has caused potatoes to rot, don’t leave them in the ground or add to the compost.

+ Homegrown tomatoes are also hard to beat. Keep picking tomatoes as they ripen and pinching out laterals (diagonal shoots that grow in the angle between branches), so the energy goes into fruit, not leaves. The longer tomatoes ripen on the plant, the better they taste, but with heavy crops you should start picking them earlier to reduce the load on the plant.

+ Onions can be picked as spring onions before the bases of the stems swell up, or once tops brown off for mature crops. To store onions once the tops have withered, leave in the ground for 2 weeks then pull them up and let bulbs continue to dry for a little longer.

+ Harvest cucumbers before they turn bitter or dry and courgettes before they turn into giant marrows. Small veges are always tastier.

+ Herbs have their most intense flavour and perfume in summer. Pick coriander, mint, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme often (this encourages more growth) and use in salads and cooked dishes.

+ Pick dwarf (also known as French) beans and runner beans when young and tender.

+ To beat the birds, pick nectarines, plums and other stone fruit after it first changes colour. Fruit will continue to ripen in a warm room.

+ Only harvest asparagus in newly planted beds for the first week and allow the rest to turn to leaf. This helps build up the productivity of the asparagus beds. You can gradually extend your harvest period each year.

 

Sow

+ Beetroot can be sown every 3-4 weeks in well-drained, friable (crumbly) soil. Regular watering and thinning of plants is essential. Young leaves can be used in salads or stir-fried when a little older. For variety try sowing white, orange, yellow or striped varieties.

+ Winter veges such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale can be sown now in cooler areas. Start in seed trays for planting in autumn and protect seedlings from sun and pests with nets and/or shade cloth.

+ Sow sweetcorn if soil temperatures are around 10-15°C in your area. In areas with short summers select varieties that are quick to mature. Heirloom varieties with coloured kernels are available from specialist seed suppliers such as Kings Seeds.

+ Courgettes can be sown throughout summer. Give plants plenty of room or train up a vertical support if space is tight. Try grilling them on the barbie, grating into salads and fritters, using in soups and stir-fries and slicing onto pizzas.

+ Pumpkin, butternuts and other cucurbits can be sown now as these plants are fast-growing and will be ready to harvest in 3-4 months.

Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Juliette Wade/Getty Images.

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