January: Garden Preparation Tips

A new year, a new garden! Here are some helpful tips and chores you can do in the month of January that will start you on the path to a gorgeous and prolific garden year. (Zones 6/7)

Plan

Garden map. Make a plan for your existing garden beds accounting for crop rotation. January is a great time to create new beds as well; consider sunlight, trees (shade), drainage, and planting rotation, just to name a few things.

Pick your varieties. Perhaps the most exciting garden planning activity: picking out your seed varieties! Use your seed catalog to help with succession planting and add to your garden map.  

Test 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.

Prepare

Prune perennials. When the North country is getting blanketed in snow, we in the Southeast are often just wet. If rain has made perennials fall flat, start cutting these plants back to give them a fresh start come spring. 

Protect beds. If you haven’t yet, mulch beds with leaf mold, manure, compost or shredded bark – a layer of around two to three inches is ideal.

Feed the trees. New tree, bush, and perennial plantings need fed in late January with a balanced, natural fertilizer, or a mix of different amendments that will get you a good balance. Do NOT fertilize with a synthetic at this time, or anything that is labeled fast-acting, as you can stress and potentially kill your plant. 

Wildlife also will benefit from your help at the beginning of the year. Start putting food and water in your garden for hungry and thirsty birds. To stop ponds and bird baths freezing over, leave a tennis ball to bob on top of the water.

Plant

Onions (indoors). While easy to grow from seed, the key is selecting the right type for the region. 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.

If starting seeds is not your thing, It's the perfect time to pre-order onion plants for March delivery!

Brassicas (indoors). Start cole crops (Brassicas) inside towards the end of the month. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Collards, Cabbage, and Kohlrabi will all benefit from being babied inside and set out with a good head start.

Stay Cozy! 


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