New Year. New Garden.
Here are some helpful gardening tips and chores you can do in the month of January that will start you on the path to an enjoyable and abundant year in your garden!
Plan Your Garden
Make a garden plan for the garden beds you already have and don’t forget to account for crop rotation. January is a great time to create new beds. Be sure to consider sunlight, trees (shade), drainage, and plant rotation.
Pick your plants! Every “arm chair gardener’s” favorite winter pastime, and possibly the most exciting garden planning activity: picking out your seed! Use your seed catalog to help with succession planting. My favorite seed store? Botanical Interests, of course. I’ve been using their seeds for years and they never disappoint.
Test your soil.
Most local cooperative extension services or state departments of agriculture offer soil testing. It’s good to know what type of soil you have before the gardening season so you can amend as needed. It is better to do that now than when you are trying to get plants in the ground.
Here is a list of soil pH preferences for garden vegetables.
Prepare for Gardening
Mulch! Winter mulch helps protect plants from fluctuating temperatures. Nature provides the best mulch, snow for many areas. If this natural mulch is not as common in your area as is needed, use straw or hay, the next to perfect mulch!
Prune perennials. When points north are getting covered in snow, we in the South are often simply wet. If rain has made perennials fall flat, start cutting these plants back to give them a fresh start come spring.
Sterilize. … your tools, pots, and anything you use around your plants. How to clean and disinfect your seedling trays.
Read up on Bees. Locally, you will probably be able to find a lot of courses for beekeeping through your beekeeping association. You can also get a list of many beekeeping associations in the USA at American Beekeeping Federation.
Tip: To stop ponds and bird baths freezing over, leave a tennis ball to bob on top of the water.
When trying to determine which vegetables to grow in January, there are two main factors to consider. The first is your location. If you live in a warm climate, you will have more options. If you live in a cool climate where snow, frost and bone-chilling temperatures are common, avoid warm weather crops such as peppers or tomatoes. The second consideration is the amount of frost protection you are willing to provide.
What Can I Plant in January?
Tired of all the lame wilted lettuce flown in from who knows where at the grocery store? Grow your own winter salad!
Carrots can be direct seeded in January, provided you do so under some type of cover such as a cold frame, which is a small, boxlike structure used outdoors to protect plants from extreme weather such as frost or even snow.
Onions While onions are easy peasy to grow from seed, the key is selecting the right type for your location. Long day onions tend to grow best in the north, when the longer days of summer trigger bulbing. Short day onions tend to grow best overwintered in the south when the shorter days of spring are enough to promote bulbing. Intermediate day onions fall more or less in the middle. Choosing Onions – Short Day or Long Day?
Radish Radish seeds can be direct sown in the ground inside of cold frames beginning January 1. Even Midwest gardeners will find it is possible to get these vegetables to grow in January, as long as they provide adequate protection. The use of a cold frame and frost cover is generally all you need to ensure the survival of most cool weather crops. Radish, like other cool weather crops, can also be over-wintered and harvested in January.
If you are having a mild winter, you can transplant seedlings of onions, broccoli, cabbage and kale, and chard. Harden them off first, and keep the row covers handy. If the ground is not still saturated from winter, you can also direct sow root vegetables and hardy greens, such as beets, bok choy, carrots, radishes, and even peas.
So, January gardening tips are more than you expected? Pace yourself! Full blown gardening season is just around the corner!