What's in season: January

Rows of leeks growing in the walled garden at Chartwell in Kent

Get the New Year off to a good start by tucking into the best fresh veg available in gardens, allotments and shops.

We're sharing harvesting and growing tips and delicious recipes to help you make the most of the season.

January is a great time to prune back your fruit trees, and if you do it now, you will see fabulous results later in the year. It's quite a quiet time on the harvesting front, but tasty veg such as parsnips, swedes and leeks should be good to go.

Vegetables to harvest and buy

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Spring green cabbage 
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Parsnips
  • Swedes

This month it's all about leeks

The humble leek has a long and distinguished history in Britain. Its wild ancestors grow in the eastern Mediterranean but, like many garden crops, centuries of selection and cultivation have transformed its appearance and flavour to what we know today.

Leeks were probably introduced to our shores by the Romans to liven up the rather dull native diet. How it became the national symbol of Wales is uncertain, but it is thought to go back to Celtic tradition, long before its association with St David’s Day. The daffodil became an occasional leek-substitute, perhaps for its similar leaf arrangement but more attractive flower. 

The species Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum is a close relative of the onion and a member of the lily family. The edible part of the plant is a long bundle of leaf sheaths that resemble a stem. 

Nowadays there are hundreds of varieties of leeks adapted to a wide range of climates and selected for their subtle and refined flavours. For most people it is a reliable winter vegetable for tasty soups and stews but it is also a favourite with competitive amateur growers who concoct secret recipes for feeding their prize-winning specimens. The world record currently stands at over 10.7 kg in weight. 

Harvesting and growing leeks

The Pillar Garden at Hidcote, Gloucestershire

Winter gardening tips: from our garden to yours 

Would you like to get more out of your garden during the winter? Our gardening experts have lots of ideas to keep you busy in all weathers.

Growing microgreens

Microgreens are the first leaves of herbs and salad vegetables, and are harvested when young to provide all-year-round freshness and nutrition. Here are our top tips to create your own indoor garden. 

A selection of gardening tools and accessories displayed against a brick wall.

Pick up some garden essentials 

If your garden could do with a bit of a helping hand, you'll find everything you need in our online shop. From new bulbs and birdfeeders to practical tools, there are useful products for every season.

January dishes