Get a head start on growing early spring vegetables by sowing cool weather crops in January as well as utilizing cold frames, frost and row covers.
Here in the Mid-West seed starting is already underway for many gardeners who want to get a jump start on the spring gardening season. Some gardeners want to grow vegetables only while other gardeners want a home garden filled with flowers, herbs and home grown vegetables. What seeds to start in January will depend on many things including how much space you have to grow seeds into young plants, if you have cold frames or tunnel houses to move the seedlings into as they grow and finally how far off spring is in your neck of the woods.
Early Spring Vegetables, Herbs And Flowers
There are many varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers that can be planted in the home garden before the last spring frost. Some of these plants will go right through light frosts without needing protection while others will need a small cold frame or frost cover to make it through.
It is possible to make your own cold frame quite easily using a raised bed. Simply screw some conduit clips to the inside of your raised bed frame, put one end of plastic conduit into the first clip, gently bend the conduit so it touches the ground on the other side of the raised bed, then put that end into a conduit clip. The conduit clips will help secure the conduit so it does not easily move. If possible, once the conduit is secured inside the clips, push the conduit an inch or so into the ground. This will help add stability.
Fill your raised bed with soil. Plant your young seedlings or seeds and drape 6 mil. plastic over the top of the hoops, securing it by laying sand bags, bricks or large pieces of wood on top of the plastic on the ground.
If it is late enough in the season that all you need is a little frost protection, use frost or row cover instead of plastic.
January Seed Starting Dates
This seed starting calendar is optimized for home gardeners in the Mid-West for the month of January. It is advisable that you begin by planting only a few of the seeds in the seed packet just in case something happens to the first round of plants you try to grow.
January 1 is a good time to direct sow carrot seed in a cold frame.
January 4 is when gardeners plant pansy, dianthus and snapdragon in flats. Many gardeners start pansy in November so they have early spring blooms, but starting them in January will still get you blooms pretty early.
January 6 is a good time to direct sow peas in cold frames if the weather is permitting. Know your cold frame and how the soil inside of it is. Remember that pea seed will rot if it gets too wet and cold.
January 10 is the day to sow statice seeds in flats if you intend to grow this everlasting flower.
January 11 is a good time to sow seeds of parsley, cabbage, celery and onion in flats. Some of you may have direct sown parsley in the garden last August, if not, sow some now.
January 15 is the day to direct sow carrots and spinach in your cold frame or tunnel house.
January 18 is when you will want to sow begonia and geranium seeds in flats. These seeds need warmer temperatures so keeping them in the house or in a heated greenhouse is advisable.
On January 25, well established seedlings that were started in flats in the house or in a greenhouse, can be moved into cold frames, weather permitting. Remember to do this gradually so seedlings are not shocked by the sudden temperature change unless you have a heated cold frame.
January 29 you can direct sow carrots in your cold frame.
The multiple dates for sowing various seeds such as carrots are there for people who succession sow, or who did not get the seed sown on the first date. Succession sowing is making several sowings of the same crops to stagger the harvest date so you get a longer harvest period for the same crop.
It is a good idea to write these dates down on a calendar and make notes. What works for one person may not work for his neighbor. Many factors including gardening soil, the weather and the variety of seeds you choose play a role in how successful your home garden will be.