What Can You Grow In January? Get Crackin’!

What Can You Grow In January? Get Crackin’!

All right, y’all. We made it past the holidays, and now we’re into big gardening time. So, you’re probably wondering, “What can you grow in January?”

 

What can you grow in January? Here's vegetable gardening for beginners ideas and when to plant your seeds!!

 

 

 

January is kind of a dull month. All the major holidays are over, we’ve all got sticker shock at how much we spent in the past couple months, and it’s freakin’ cold.

 

So, not much fun, which is where starting your seedlings comes in. The seed catalogues are rolling in, and it’s time to start figuring out what you’ll grow.

 

(this article is an excerpt from my bestselling book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.  You can get a copy on Amazon or buy it directly from me which will save you 10% and you’ll get the digital copy for free.

 

Buy your copy right here)

 

What can you grow in January?

Now, there’s definitely some vegetable seedlings you can start indoors under lights, which you can eventually transition out to cold frames.

 

I show you in this article which vegetables do best in cold frames.

 

And there’s some things you can grow right in your kitchen, such as sunflower microgreens (tasty for you AND your chickens).

 

So, if you’re still wondering “what can you grow in January?” then hang onto your pants (please, do, really. No one wants to see you with your pants down), and check out the list below.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Kale (Brassica oleracea acephala)

My old friend kale does well in cold weather, and because of that, you can start it right now if the gardening itch is getting to you.

 

You can buy kale seeds from my favorite store Seeds Now.

 

Keep that grow light about 1-2 inches above the pots. I tend to broadcast kale and then thin because the seeds are so tiny.

 

My old eyes and cranky finger joints can’t handle the fiddly-ness of individual potting. If this sounds like you, then broadcast in trays filled with soil, and cover lightly with dirt.

 

In Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening, I show you how to care for kale, harvest it, and save the seeds. All important stuff for a self-sufficient garden!

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

So, confession time. I grow lettuce for my chickens and my rabbits because it’s fun watching them eat it, and I’m not a huge fan of lettuce personally.

 

You can get organic lettuce seeds for a reasonable price right here.

 

I started using this plan because I always wanted to grow in January, even though I’m not a huge fan of lettuce. But it works out, and the critters are happy with everything I grow for them (in January and the rest of the year, too).

 

So, lettuce isn’t that much different than kale, although it IS less cold loving.

 

Because we live in Missouri, and don’t have a spring, I start these in January. The rule of thumb is to start lettuce seeds indoors under lights about 6 weeks before the last spring frost date.

 

Go here if you want to grow in January based on the last spring frost date.

 

Lettuce seeds like a heat range of 45 – 75 degrees for germination, so if you’re startings seeds inside your house, you should be okay, but if you’re starting out in a garage, you might need a heat mat like this one.

 

If you care for your lettuce seedlings well enough, you should get quite a few early spring harvests out of them.

 

Just remember that your lettuce will be with you indoors through January and on into the later months before transplant, so they’ll need a bit of space – go with 6 inch pots to start them so they have plenty of room to grow.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Mustard (Brassica juncea)

Mustard is another one I start to grow in January. It’s best to start mustard 3 weeks before your last spring frost date, but in this neck of the woods, that can be very early.

 

In 2017, we had a series of very warm weeks in February and into March, and it never really cooled down again.

 

And mustard doesn’t like heat, so it shoots up, and I lose my crop. Which is why I start it under lights as early as January 15.

 

Like kale, mustard seeds are small and fiddly, so I broadcast in a tray and then thin.

 

Those seeds like temps at least 55 degrees, so again, if you’re starting them outside in a greenhouse or garage, use a heat mat.

 

You can also learn how to heat your off grid greenhouse, which is simpler than it seems.

 

Mustard seeds are another one I save. It’s easy, and I show you how to do it in Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.

 

Onions (Allium cepa)

Onions are a bit tricky, and if you want to grow in January and transplant, now is a good time to get going.

 

Now, fair warning: They need a lot of space and it’s easier to start them from sets. But if you’re dedicated, you can definitely have success starting them under lights in January. Onions need temps over 30 degrees to flourish, so just remember that when you start your grow tray.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

I’ve never had much success growing spinach indoors since it doesn’t transplant well, but maybe you’ll have better luck.

 

You can buy organic spinach seeds here.

 

I prefer direct sowing, especially since it can survive light frosts (the plant, at least. The seedlings….that’s another story).

 

Spinach needs soil temps of at least 40 degrees to grow, but doesn’t do well if soil temps are above 70 degrees. So, this is a good one to start in a cold frame or in a garage under lights. Or a greenhouse!

 

Herbs

You can start various herbs now for transplant in your garden in spring/early summer. If your house is warm enough, you can start them under lights without a heat mat (although it’s easier with the heat mat).

 

You can buy organic herb seeds here.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Use these tricks to starting seeds easier

There are some seeds that take a few extra steps to start (or, it can help them start better). In this article, I show you 2 easy tricks that should be in your master gardener toolkit to starting seeds from certain vegetables easier!

 

Wondering what can you grow in January for your chickens? Well, luckily, pretty much all the veggies we discuss in this article are great for chickens. Mine particularly like kale, herbs, and spinach!

 

square foot gardening plant spacing




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How To Plant A Perennial Herb Garden

How To Plant A Perennial Herb Garden

One of our goals this year is to expand our herb garden, and try to establish it as a true perennial herb garden.

 

I’d like it if, year after year, we got as many plants as possible to voluntarily grow and produce aromatic herbs and seeds.

 

Our hens love herbs, and it’s one of those small luxuries that’s easy to produce, and easy to impress other people with. And it doesn’t even take a lot of space.


Have chickens that LOVE herbs? (Who doesn’t?!)

nesting box herbs

Yes, my hens love herbs!

 

For this project, we chose a shady plot in the garden, since many herbs do well in the shade, and it’s a good use of otherwise limited land.

 

Cilantro, in particular, is one herb I want to establish since I like to cook with cilantro and coriander.

 

Some herbs are hard to find in the store (like super fresh coriander) or you have to buy a TON just to get a tablespoonful (who uses a half pound of dill, for example?).

 

Your own herb garden solves both those dilemmas.

 

If you also want to plant a perennial herb garden, here’s some tips.

 

1. Decide which herbs to grow

 

If you’re just starting your garden, decide which herbs you’ll most likely use and enjoy, and plant those. If you use a lot of rosemary in bread baking or as a savory for steak, it’s a great bet to include in your garden.

 

You’ll end up using it frequently, and feel fulfilled after stepping just outside your door to snag a handful of fresh rosemary.

How to Grow a Perennial Herb Garden. It's a simple luxury that's easy to grow! Here's how to do it, and what you need. From FrugalChicken

Don’t just focus on only herbs you can cook with – if there’s a particular herb you love for the scent or just to look at, plant it!

 

For example, if you love lavender, but don’t necessarily see yourself using it a ton, you should still plant it. You might end up trying to use it, and discover a new flavor.

 

Just remember to plant herbs according to their needs – are they ok in full shade or do they need 8 hours of sun? Do they need only 4?

 

Will some grow so tall they’ll shade out others? Does your herb need to be 12 inches from another plant or 2 feet?

 

You get the picture.

2. Choose herbs that are likely to establish themselves in your area

 

Not all herbs will survive all climates, so do your research and figure out which herbs will survive your local environment. An herb that can survive in the extreme cold of Minnesota might not live in the extreme heat of Arizona.

 

Rosemary, mint, parsley, and oregano are some herbs that will survive winter, although you might have to use a cold frame around your herb gardenLavender and yarrow are two that do well in hot environments.

 

If there’s an herb you want to grow that won’t continue to reseed itself year after year, it’s better off in a container. You can bring your plant inside as needed to keep it growing.

3. You can start from seed or buy established plants

 

Some herbs are tough to start from seed. Or perhaps you started a bunch from seed but a wayward goat ate them or a chicken scratched up the seedlings.

 

I’ve had luck raising some plants from seed.  Sage in particular has been easy to start, and – surprisingly – so has dill.

 

How to Grow a Perennial Herb Garden. It's a simple luxury that's easy to grow! Here's how to do it, and what you need. From FrugalChicken

 

Others…let’s just say I’ve struggled with some.

 

I struggled with cilantro for years, and couldn’t keep even potted plants alive.

 

After some research, I learned that cilantro has a long tap root for an herb, which means in order to survive, the tap root (or main root) needs to dig deep into the earth to provide nutrients to the plant.

 

It’s one herb I purchased as an established plant, and transplanted into my garden. Finally, I’m having luck, and eating a ton of salsa!

 

Basil, on the other hand, is an herb I’ve always had an easy time growing even in containers. It grows wonderfully in a garden, and can grow large and bushy.

 

4. Consider different varieties of the same herb

If you have an established garden, or just want to try a bunch of different herbs to test your homesteading skills and your pallet, try different varieties.

 

Try a boxwood basil next to a traditional, large leaf basil. Try lemon mint next to peppermint. There’s also a ton of varieties of thyme!

 

Different varieties of the same plant species bring different flavors to the table, and are a great way to diversify your garden.

 

They also bring a different visual texture to your garden, since some might be large and leafy, while others might be short with tiny sprigs going out every direction.

 

How to Grow a Perennial Herb Garden. It's a simple luxury that's easy to grow! Here's how to do it, and what you need. From FrugalChicken

5. Prepare your soil

 

Once you decide what to grow, it’s time to prepare the soil. To get rid of any grasses or weeds that might be growing, I use a spade to remove an inch or so of soil, leaving only fresh dirt exposed.

 

I add a couple inches of composted manure, and mix it with with the soil by chopping it together with a hoe. Next, I use a metal garden rake to flatten the area so water doesn’t collect. A flat area is also easier to work with.

 

Using a hand trowel, I either dig a hole for an established plant or loosen up dirt to plant seeds. 

 

I use a hand rake a ton in my garden to dig around stubborn weeds to yank them by the roots.

 

I love leaf scoops to remove mounds of pulled weeds from the garden quickly.  They make a super tedious job quick and simple.

 

You definitely want to get good, sturdy equipment – I’ve bent many a trowel digging up a stubborn root.

 

6. Help the plants establish themselves

 

Whether you’ve started your herb garden by seed or used purchased transplants, give them a while to become established. Water regularly in the morning or evening (not during the day to prevent sunburn). 

 

Keep pests, chickens, and small hands away from your garden to help your plants establish themselves. 

 

Keep your herb garden weed free by removing any unwanted plants and laying down mulch or garden fabric to kill any potential weeds.

 

Steer clear of putting down hay – I’ve found that seeds from volunteer weeds like to hang out in hay, and can be hard to destroy once they’ve gotten their claws into your healthy, nourishing soil.

 

Make sure there’s a lot of branches on your herbs by regularly trimming the top of the plant an inch or so for the first few weeks – this will help the plant grow healthy and increase your yield.

 

It also keeps the herb from shooting straight up and going to seed by prompting the plant to put energy into creating strong, healthy roots.

 

Don’t harvest until your herb is least 6 inches tall to give its roots time to grow and spread into the soil.

 

7. Harvest, then allow for reseeding

 

Harvest your herbs continually throughout the spring and summer so they don’t immediately go to seed. Simply cut a couple inches off the top every now and then. 

 

Not only does going to seed deprive you of their herbal lusciousness throughout the season (because they’ll stop producing), but once they start going to seed, it can change their composition. 

 

Cilantro, when allowed to go to seed, gets thinner and a little bitter. To keep the leaves large and fresh-tasting, pinch off any flowers.

 

How to Grow a Perennial Herb Garden. It's a simple luxury that's easy to grow! Here's how to do it, and what you need. From FrugalChicken
When the season is over, though, let your herb plants go to seed – they’ll first bloom flowers, then drop their seeds. Your garden will hopefully be established when your plants grow voluntarily next year.

 

Which herbs will you try to create a perennial herb garden with this year? Leave a comment below!

Want Gourmet Ingredients Right At Your Fingertips? Grow These 10 Easy But Oh-So-Delicious Herbs!

Want Gourmet Ingredients Right At Your Fingertips? Grow These 10 Easy But Oh-So-Delicious Herbs!

Have you ever moved to a new home and realized you didn’t quite know what you were getting into?

 

That’s what happened when we moved to our farm. We were very used to easy sources for herbs, creme fraiche, and other yummy ingredients.

 

(Want more great down-home gardening advice? Grab your copy of my new book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening available now on Amazon!)

 

Buuuuttt…good luck finding them in a 50 mile radius in this rural town.

 

In fact, part of the reason we started our homestead was so we could have access to fresh, organic ingredients that otherwise we would have zero access to (or at least ingredients that hadn’t been sprayed with a ton of Round-up or shipped from questionable sources overseas) – herbs included.

 

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, or just want to bring the garden indoors, here’s 10 easy, versatile, and gourmet herbs we’ve had success with!

 

You can grow them in your own kitchen, and they’ll have your friends convinced you’re either a green-thumb savant and/or Gordon Ramsay himself.

 

Enjoy!

 

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

You can grow basil as an annual herb. For classic and aromatic flavor; you can try Genovese Basil. Grow Lemon Basil for a citrus flavor and Spicy Globe if you’ll like a Basil herb that grows compactly (8 to 10 inches tall). Spicy Globe basil looks great in pots. Plant in at least a 6-inch pot, keep watered, and fertilize with compost once a month. Ready to harvest when the plant is 6-inches tall, well established, and consistently growing leaves. Easy pesto anyone?

 

Bay (Laurus nobilis)

Although this initially grows very slowly, with enough patience, it will eventually form a bush or small tree which you can easily train into a wide array of shapes, or even a topiary. To make it easy start, you can purchase a young, organic, 1- to 2-foot plant and begin nurturing it. Perfect for soups and stews.

 

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)

Also known as French parsley, this annual herb shares a striking similarity to delicate overtones of anise in terms of appearance and taste. Water regularly, and feed compost every other month. To harvest Chervil, all you need to do is snip the outer leaves and stems.

 

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

This is a grass-like herb with a mild onion flavor. Perfect on baked potatoes, or whenever you need a delicate, fresh, onion flavor. When harvesting, it is highly important to cut small bunches of leaves back into the soil level in order to keep new ones growing constantly.

 

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

Plant in a deep pot because Cilantro has a long taproot, and needs room to grow. It’s best to plant is where you intend to keep it because it doesn’t do well with transplanting. Keep in a sunny area since it loves warmth, and water regularly.

 

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Dill is an aromatic annual herb which is best known for its leaves when it is grown indoors. You can also grow it for its seeds – if you’re able to stop yourself from eating it! Add to soups and curries, or with fish. Fernleaf dill is a compact herb which is perfect for indoor growth.

 

Marjoram (Origanum spp.)

This herb originates from the Mediterranean and it is a member of the oregano family. However it stands out from other members of its botanical family in terms of flavor, which is distinctly sweeter and more delicate. Sweet marjoram can be grown in pots on a sunny kitchen window sill. Plant in a 6-inch pot, and water regularly.

 

Mints (Mentha spp.)

Peppermint and spearmint are both awesome choices for your kitchen. You can harvest it for tea or as flavoring in a salad. It’s hardy and easy to grow as long as it gets water regularly (if the soil is dry below the surface, it’s time to water.) If growing outdoors, you should ensure to put mint in its own personal container as it can easily outgrow and choke other herbs. When the plant is young but established, snip off new growth to encourage the plant to spread and develop more stems.

 

Oregano (Origanum vulgare ssp. hirtum)

There’s a few different types of oregano. For one that packs a lot of flavor, Greek oregano can grow up to about 12 inches in pots (plant in a 6 to 8-inch pot for best results). Ensure to harvest oregano leaves regularly in order to encourage the growth of new ones.

 

 

Parsley (Petroselinum spp.)

Both Italian flat-leaf and curly-leaf parsley grow effectively when put indoors. When harvesting, ensure that you cut off the outer leaves. Doing this will spur the growth of new leaves from its center and will keep it productive for a long period of time, possibly several months.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you have a favorite herb to grow in your kitchen? Leave a comment below!