Despite the cold and bitter months of winter, there are a number of jobs to start doing in the vegetable garden to ensure that you're home-grown veg supply is bigger and better than the year before (although a lot of the bits and pieces to done in January are very much maintenance related, they are important to ensure a successful garden).
To begin with, if there is still a supply of winter vegetables in your plot they should be covered with a dense layer of straw to protect them from frost. Any remaining empty beds should be raked over, mulching the leaf-mould in from last year to ensure that the soil has the best possible nutrients to grow your crops in later on.
Rhubarb is a relatively hardy plant but grows best in warmer environments. This is the time to begin forcing your rhubarb which can be easily done by covering the plant with a large upturned pot or bucket that is insulated with straw to create a dark yet warm place to encourage the shoots to grow (seakale can also be forced in the same way).
The next job is to sort your compost out. Once you have an established area no matter how big or small, a compost heap needs little maintenance besides being turned every now and again, and will provide you with nutrient-rich material which can be added to the soil to give your veg the best possible chance and without the use of chemicals.
Investing in a water-collection butt is also a must at this time of year in order to collect the rainwater that can be used to water your growing crops. Not only will this save you a few pennies on the water bill, but they are also relatively inexpensive and are easy to install, with rainwater also having fewer chemicals in than the water from the tap.
The last task for this month is to sow your onion seeds. Onions can take quite a while to grow from seeds and should be planted on warm windowsills so that they will be ready to plant outside in March. Tip...by using small biodegradable pots you will be able to plant them straight into the ground in the spring without too much disturbance to the plants or their roots.
January at a glance:
Mulch last year's leaf-mould into empty beds.
Force rhubarb by covering with an upturned pot.
Choose an area to start creating a compost pile.
Install a water-butt to begin collecting rainwater.