Allotment jobs for January

Wow what a difficult year we had last year, snow including the beast from the east, a very cold spring and an amazingly hot summer.  The winter so far has been wet but not that cold and so far no sign of snow, now only the mildest days are likely to draw you out to the allotment in January, but it’s the axiom of gardening that the early digger gets the crops.  So dig all available ground if the ground is not too heavy and wet, if too much soil sticks to the spade then it’s too wet.  If you can get hold of well-rotted manure, spread it over the surface of any empty beds and let the worms take it down, if there’s any left on top, dig it in around March time.  Spread lime over your soil (except where you plant potatoes or where you have spread manure) to sweeten the soil.

Sow (under cover) 

  • Onions – you can sow onions seeds later, but the earlier you sow them the bigger they will be as they need a long growing season. You can also buy onion sets from the allotment shop ready to plant out in Feb and March.
  • Tomatoes – for an early greenhouse crop.
  • Chilli
  • Aubergines
  • Broad beans
  • Radish
  • Peas
  • Winter salad leaves or winter lettuce.
  • Chard
  • Leeks – these will be ready early.

A good tip for sowing onions is by sowing them in cells.  Then in the bottom put a good quality compost that has fertiliser included (such as the Vitax Q4 that is sold in the shop) then on top use a john Innes seed compost.  The seed will germinate in the John Innes compost, then once the roots start growing they will reach the good compost which will actually give them a huge boost.


  • Buy your seed potatoes from shop and chit them before planting out in March.
  • Mulch asparagus beds with 2 inches of well-rotted manure.
  • Remove dead leaves from Brussel sprouts and other brassicas.
  • Protect brassicas from pigeons.


  • Prune raspberries if not already done.
  • Complete fruit pruning (not stone fruits)
  • Force rhubarb for sweeter sticks.
  • Prune grapevines.
  • Plant fruit bushes and trees.
  • Renew grease bands around fruit trees.
  • If your fruit trees do not have strong growth, feed with Bonemeal.


  • Dig up and leave parsnips on top of the soil on a frosty night and the frost will sweeten them.
  • Leeks
  • Purple sprouting
  • Brussel sprouts – if the ground is compacted around the sprouts they will not blow.
  • Winter cabbage

Other jobs:

  • Plan your crops for this year, including your crop rotation.
  • Have a walk around with a notepad and see what jobs need doing.
  • Keep a diary.
  • Order seeds or buy them from the allotment shop, we have a good selection.
  • Tidy up shed.
  • Look at structures and see if they need any TLC.
  • Check nets are still in place.
  • Wash all pots and seed trays.
  • Clean greenhouse.
  • It’s a good time to look for slugs and snails under pots, wooden boards etc.
  • Start a compost heap.
  • Make a leaf mould bin, and use the leaves that are delivered on site.
  • Invest in a wormery.
  • Test your soil. You can test the Ph by using a kit, or send a sample away and have it tested properly.
  • Clean and sharpen tools.
  • Warm up and dry beds out by covering them with sheets of polythene or cardboard.
  • Mulch paths with woodchip to avoid muddy paths.

If you haven’t done so already, check out the seeds, fertilisers, string, slug pellets, compost etc in the allotment shop before buying in a garden centre or online, we are in general cheaper and all profit goes back into the society and helps to keep the rent lower.

Finally a quote from Marcus Tullius Cicero who was considered one of Rome’s greatest philosophers, politicians, lawyers, orators, political theorist and consuls.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” 

Your garden week by week – AGL Hellyer
Dig for victory – Mr Middleton
Allotment month by month – alan Buckingham
Allotment and garden guide – twigs way
Sarah Ravens website