I've decided that once a month I will write to tell you what I am planting in the vegetable garden. This way you can have a little nudge and help to schedule your garden. It is always hard to stop the whirlwind of life to work in the dirt. However, when I do I always feel more peaceful and grounded. And there is nothing like walking into a garden and coming back with a whole basket of fresh food!
In response to my blog about planting seeds inside, I received this:
How long do I have to wait to plant seeds if I don't want to plant them inside. Is it just until we are past the last frost? Also, can I stagger planting so I have veggies at different times or do they have a specific growing season?
Fantastic question!! I have about ten different answers in my head. First of all, if you want to plant directly in the ground you should wait about another month until you are sure the last freeze has passed. Although we have been having a crazy warm winter, you never know what may happen to the temperatures at night.
Most vegetables do have specific growing seasons depending on the temperatures that they thrive in. Others are more hardy and will grow all year once they are established. The good part is, if you plan out your vegetable garden a bit you can stagger the plants so that you always have something ready to eat (accept maybe in the dead of winter). This also helps to maximize the space in your garden.
Certain plants will thrive in the early spring and be gone in time for summer veggies, and then transfer into a fall and winter garden. This way you will always have something being produced even if your garden is very small. When I eat out of the garden I am eating the tastes of the season and that enables me to fully experience the change of seasons!
In January there is still a good chance of a frost, so you mostly want to be preparing your garden for spring planting. Despite this, the daffodils seem ready to get spring started! Take a few minutes here and there to pull up the weeds that have grown. If you have compost that is ready, spread it around in the dirt, or till it into the soil. You can also spread a layer or hay or mulch to act as a weed barrier.
If you are an urban balcony farmer and using pots, think about getting some new potting soil to replenish the nutrients. I did this for a few years and had a lot of fun with it!
Start thinking about greens that like cold weather. These include lettuces and spinach. Lettuce will do well in a pot and can really look beautiful and artistic. By planting in a pot, you can keep the seedlings under an overhang and then move them more into the elements as the weather warms.
No matter where you are planting it is fun to try and design your planting so that the vegetables look not only delicious but beautiful! Plant lettuce that grows tall in the middle such as iceberg. Around that you can put a circle of red leaf lettuce and maybe around the outer circle, a row of low growing butter leaf lettuce. I also try and apply these principals of decorative veggies in the garden as well.
Radishes and beans can also be successful in cold weather. Beans will need a structure to crawl up. The vines will go as high as they can. Radishes however only grow about 8-12 inches high. They need more real estate under ground. Because of this radishes and beans can be intermingled. Make sure to loosen the soil with a trowel before planting radishes so that they can easily expand as they grow in the soil.
Lastly onions can be started in January. I have tried onions from seeds and was very unsuccessful. Last year I bought the little onion starters and had a crop of over 50 onions!
Freezing will kill any new seedling. So if you do plant outside in January and there is a freeze, make sure to cover the plants.