Sow direct outside if the ground is not frozen hard and indoors in pots if it is still very cold.
Brussels sprouts, kohl rabi, and sprouting broccoli
Sow the first early varieties indoors in deep modules this month. You should be able to plant them out in April or May.
Plant shallot sets in a shallow drill about 18cm (7in) apart so that the tips are just showing.
Each individual shallot set that you plant should produce up to ten separate bulbs around mid- to late summer.
In mild areas, sow a few peas outdoors under cloches as long as you have warmed up the soil by covering it in advance.
Sow seeds in pots or modules indoors or under cover somewhere where the temperature at night remains at about 5ºC (40ºF).
Rhubarb can be grown from seed – sown now and transplanted in May – but it’s easier to buy new sets or divide and re-plant old crowns at any time during the winter.
For an early crop in April or May, sow a fast-growing variety indoors and plant out in March.
Tomatoes and cucumbers
If you’re raising plants for a greenhouse or polytunnel, sow seeds indoors now. To ensure germination, use a heated propagator and then maintain the temperature at a minimum of 21ºC (70ºF).
Winter salad leaves
Continue to sow salads such as rocket, spinach, kale, chard, mustard, and various Oriental leaves under cover in a greenhouse or cold frame.
Fruit trees and bushes
New, bare-rooted trees and bushes are still dormant and can be planted this month provided the ground is not frozen or too wet. Prepare the site in advance by digging a hole wide enough for the roots to spread out, and check the depth. Once the plant is in position, mulch generously to keep moisture in.
Use a length of wood or a cane laid across the planting hole to check that fruit trees are at the right depth. The graft or “union” joint should be above soil level.
Plant cloves of garlic now if the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. Otherwise, wait until next month.
Sow in pots and keep in a propagator at a minimum temperature of 18ºC (65ºF) until they have germinated. Keep them indoors until you can harden them off and plant them out in April or May.
Plant tubers direct outside in a single row somewhere where the plants won’t overshadow other crops when they reach their full height. Protect with cloches if very cold.
For crops that will be ready to harvest in May and June, sow seeds indoors this month in modules or biodegradable pots. Thin out seedlings and then plant out under cover next month, in cold frames or under cloches or fleece.
Sow early varieties outside under cover.
Onions and leeks
To grow from seed, sow in modules and keep indoors at a temperature of 10ºC (50ºF) to give them an early start. Transplant outdoors in March or April.
Fruit trees and bushes
Text and photographs copyright © 2010 Alan Buckingham.