Chard is pretty hardy and will have survived most winters and be starting to produce new growth. These tender young leaves can be harvested as an early spring crop before the plant starts to produce a flower spike and sets seed.
My favourite variety of chard has to be the bright pink 'Peppermint', but don't worry it doesn't taste like toothpaste!
Lettuce plants which have been growing through the winter months should now start to heart up a little. 'Winter Density' and others can be harvested leaf at a time while allowing the rosette to continue to heart up, providing you with a full plant in April/May. Removing a few leaves from multiple plants will extend your harvest and give enough leaves for a meal every week or two.
Parsley is a versatile herb in the kitchen and grows well in the garden, surviving through winter. Tired plants can have old leaves removed (using any good ones, or freezing them for later) and this will allow them to put on a spurt of fresh growth before they begin to set seed. Leaving the plants to go to seed will give a source of food to early insects and also allow you to save your own seed: you'll never need to buy it again!
If you pick the right variety of pea, you can sow them from early February. 'Douce Provence' and 'Meteor' are round seeded varieties, which means that water won't sit in any wrinkles and make them rot before they start to grow. Round seeded types can be sown in autumn or again from early February. I like to sow mine in old toilet roles as this gives the seedlings a good amount of root space and they can be planted straight out. You can also start seeds in root trainers if you like. Regular wrinkled varieties of pea can be sown from next month, so not long now!
Purple Sprouting Broccoli is a staple of late winter-early spring, with spears being produced on a daily basis. This tasty veg isn't just a favourite for us, the pigeons love it as well, so make sure to net your plants well. Large pigeons will even land on the top of cages to weigh netting down while they nibble the plants through it, so a few stout canes with a tennis ball pushed on top can be used to prop up netting in the middle of cages.
Remember that broccoli leaves can be used like kale if you cut the midrib out before cooking.
Savoy cabbages are the hardiest form there is, easily lasting through the colder winter months. In fact, 'January King' gets its name because it's so hardy and is ready to harvest in late winter. Check plants for yellowing or rotten leaves and remove them as soon as possible, otherwise they can cause the whole head to rot. Plants won't grow much more at this time of year, so larger leaves which are touching other plants can also be removed to prevent problems. When harvesting, cut the head and leave the stump in the ground; if you're lucky the plants will put on a fresh flush of leaves to use like spring greens, especially if you cut a shallow X in the stump.
Whether you like to grow the slender, long fruited varieties or the more meaty types, it's time to start sowing aubergine seeds on the kitchen windowsill towards the end of this month. Plants like a long, hot growing season and will perform better in a greenhouse or tunnel, with smaller fruited ones like 'Jackpot' growing well outside in a sunny spot, while larger fruited 'Meatball' will give more fruit under cover.
Parsnip seed can be started on pieces of moist kitchen paper then sealed in a zippy bag and placed somewhere dark and warm to sprout. By doing this you will know which of your seeds will grow, as they will produce a small "tail" as the seed germinates. You can then carefully plant the germinated seeds where you want them to grow.
Autumn fruiting raspberry canes should be chopped off at ground level this month, this encourages new ones which will produce this seasons fruit. After pruning it's best to mulch your plants with well rotted manure to act as a mulch, suppress weeds and help feed emerging canes.
If you are lucky enough to still have any stored squash and pumpkins, now is the time to think about using them up before they start to deteriorate. Roasting the flesh before making them into soups and purees will help give a deeper, richer flavour; then you can freeze what you make and use it up as you need it.
If you haven't already added well rotted manure or home made compost to your beds, nows the time. Ideally, this would have been done in autumn, but sometimes there isn't the time. Avoid sowing root crops in freshly manured beds as this can cause roots to warp or twist, however brassicas will love the extra feed!
If you took cuttings from perennial kales (like this Daubenton's kale) in the autumn, it may be time to pot them up into larger pots. The same goes for plants you order on line, they will benefit from getting potted into a larger container and grown on in a cold greenhouse until the weather is a little better, then they should romp away once they are planted out.