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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These 10 Frugal Feeds & Chicken Water Feeder Hacks Are So Easy!

These 10 Frugal Feeds & Chicken Water Feeder Hacks Are So Easy!

Raising chickens can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want to make it. These 10 frugal feeds and chicken water feeder hacks are easy – and we’ve used them on our farm to help our flock (and our wallets) be healthier!

 

When it comes to raising chickens, I definitely think cutting corners is a bad idea – it puts your flock’s health at risk and might harm them in the end.

 

But that DOESN’T mean you have to spend a million bucks on your hens. So, in this article, I’m going to show you 10 inexpensive hacks that will help your chickens be healthier AND that chickens love!

 

(Need a chicken feeder? Here’s the brands we recommend)

 

Raise your own mealworms and black soldier fly larvae as frugal feeds

Raising mealworms is easy. Mealworms are the larvae of the darkling beetle – and raising them doesn’t take much space or investment.

 

In this article about raising mealworms for chickens, I show you step-by-step how to raise them in a dark, quiet corner of your farm. And chickens (especially my silkies and brahmas) love them!

 

Raising black soldier fly larvae is another option. Black soldier fly larvae are extremely healthy for chickens – with lots of protein and calcium, they’ll help your flock lay better eggs, grow beautiful feathers, and more!

 

Here’s my best article about black soldier fly larvae for chickens if you want more information.

 

Raise Mealworms for Your Chickens is easy with this guide!

 

Grow a garden with herbs and greens in spring

We all know fresh is better – and nothing is better than fresh food for your hens! One way we save some money on chicken feed and provide the flock with some healthy snacks is by devoting a corner of our garden to growing herbs and greens such as lettuce, kale, spinach and more for our flock.

 

Herbs are wonderful – they have way too many uses in the coop for me to list here. Everything from helping your hens lay better to being healthier!

 

Here’s some ideas about how to grow your own frugal feeds with herbs and greens:

How to get started with herbs for hens

10 herbs for backyard chickens

How to grow greens for your chickens

 

frugal feeds chicken water feeder hacks

Build your own automatic chicken feeder in 15 minutes and under $12

This is truly one of those genius ideas that takes just minutes but can be a lifesaver for your flock, especially on those super hot days!

 

Water is critical for your flock to stay healthy – chickens have a higher body temperature than humans, and feel the heat more than we do. Every day, you should double check (and during the summer, check several times a day) that your flock has free access to water.

 

This water is also easy to clean – just be sure to use a food-safe plastic bucket. If you have extra buckets hanging around, then you can easily use this hack!

 

My full plans to build an automatic waterer for under $12 are right here.

 

If you don’t want to make one, you can check out our review of the 7 best feeders on Amazon here.

 

Stop waste by building a frugal PVC feeder

PVC feeders are pretty popular – you can just drill some chicken-sized holes in a PVC pipe to stop your flock from throwing their feed everywhere.

 

This also will help keep mice and other critters out of the coop, since they won’t be attracted by the grain everywhere.

 

You can use these plans – and it should only cost you a few bucks.

Grow frugal feeds by sprouting fodder for chickens

Sprouting fodder is really easy – and I suggest only using seeds such as wheat and barley. If you don’t know what it is, fodder is simply seeds that have been sprouted into grass.

 

Seeds such as sunflower seeds, etc are great for sprouting – but fodder takes it to the next level by producing an actual grass.

 

Chickens LOVE it – they get the benefit of the nutrients from both the seeds and the grass. Your wallet will love it too, because while you’ll have to pay for the seeds, you’ll be maximizing your investment by quadrupling the nutritional benefit of the seeds!

 

You can read my growing fodder for chickens tutorial here.

 

Keep your chicken water feeder clean with apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is wonderful for your chickens! If you’ve never made it, you can download my “How to make apple cider vinegar” video here.

 

It can help keep your waterer clean because it introduces beneficial bacteria – and it’s great for your flock’s digestive system!

 

In the winter, you can add it to their water daily (and if you have chicks, you can add it to their water too!). In the summer, if you’re concerned about the vinegar dehydrating your chickens, you can limit it to once or twice a week.

 

frugal feeds chicken water feeder hacks

Buy grain in bulk

One of my favorite frugal feeds hacks is to buy grain for your chickens in bulk – we’ve been able to save SO MUCh doing this, and we can get all non-GMO feeds this way.

 

The best way to do this is to contact grain manufacturers in your area.

 

Scramble eggs with fresh herbs as healthy & frugal feeds

If money is REALLY short one week, you can always scramble your flock’s eggs for them to eat. It’s not weird and it’s not cannibalism – eggs are full of protein, and chickens love them!

 

The shells also contain calcium, which will help your flock lay great eggs with strong eggshells.

 

Mix them with herbs from your garden to make them even healthier (try oregano), and (I promise) your flock will go BANANAS for them!!

 

Just be sure to add the fresh herbs AFTER the eggs have been cooked to preserve the essential oils in them!

 

Make your own frugal feeds with this recipe

Yes, you CAN make your own chicken feed! And in this organic chicken feed recipe, I show you just how to do it!

 

You will have to buy all the individual ingredients, so it’s a bit of a process, but especially if you can find a bulk supplier, you can save quite a bit!

 

If you don’t have time to make your own feed, then you can always try to buy non-GMO feed in bulk from a grain manufacturer (see above).

 

Add garlic to your chicken’s water feeder to boost their immune systems

If one of your goals is to save money when raising chickens, then making sure they stay healthy is important. Everytime you bring them to the vet, your care bill increases!

 

One thing you can do yourself is try to boost your flock’s immune system, and garlic is a great way to do it!

 

You can use garlic granules (which we sell in the store here) or simply chop fresh garlic and add it to their water. The essential oils – allicin – in garlic has been shown in studies to improve immune systems.

 

Plus, chickens love them!

 

You can start by adding garlic to your chicken’s water feeder once a week and make sure they’re drinking it. Go with 1 clove per gallon of water.

 

Grow Sunflower Microgreens As A Healthy Treat For Your Hens!

Grow Sunflower Microgreens As A Healthy Treat For Your Hens!

Sunflower microgreens are a delicious addition to your recipe collection, and they’re easy to grow in your kitchen.

 

Once “mature,” you can harvest your sunflower microgreens, and their rich, nutty flavor and crunchy texture fit into every meal of the day. They pair particularly nicely with eggs at breakfast, soups, sandwiches, and wraps at lunch, and alongside meats and grains at dinner.

 

Chock full of vitamins, protein, and lecithin to break down fatty acids, sunflower microgreens are not only delicious, they also pack quite a nutritional punch. Growing them yourself is economical, satisfying, and fun. It’s an easy crop for children to plant and grow and makes a great addition to their favorite meals, including pizza, tacos, and alphabet soup.

 

An as an added bonus, your chickens, ducks, other poultry, and rabbits will also jump at the chance to down some sunflower microgreens as part of their diet (and you might even save some money at the same time!)

 

Are you ready to exercise your green thumb by growing your own sunflower microgreens this planting season? Follow these ten easy steps!

 

Start by purchasing quality sunflower sprouting seeds.

 

You don’t need to purchase the most expensive seeds, but you do want the black oil sunflower seed variety. Make sure the seeds you purchase are for sprouting – organic seeds are best so you can be sure they haven’t been sprayed with harmful chemicals.

 

Click here to buy organic sunflower sprouting seeds on Amazon

 

Then purchase a growing pad, organic soilseedling tray, and plastic cover, and set them aside for later use. (You can make your own organic soil as well).

 

Soak the seeds in warm water for at least 12 hours

 

Grab a mason jar and pour in enough seeds to cover your grow tray. Because we’re growing microgreens, space isn’t as big of an issue so be generous – you want a large enough harvest to make the effort worth it.

 

Be sure to keep the seeds covered as they soak to keep dust, bugs, etc out of the jar.  This will speed up germination, and let you harvest the sunflower microgreens faster. You’ll also waste less seeds.

 

If you don’t want to go through the soaking process, then you can just plant the seeds directly in the grow tray.

 

But if you want to soak your seeds, then…

 

Drain and rinse the seeds thoroughly with cool water, then repeat the soaking process.

 

Again, use warm water and soak for an additional 12 hours. It’s very important to rinse the seeds thoroughly so they don’t get moldy.

 

At this point, you should start to see the seeds begin to sprout. It will look like they’re growing tiny tails.

 

Pour potting soil into your grow tray and spread the seeds very thickly.

 

You can cover the seeds very lightly with additional soil, but it’s not strictly necessary. Cover the tray with the plastic top so moisture is retained – make sure there is some ventilation, and remove the top if the seeds begin to mold.

Grow sunflower microgreens for a healthy addition to any meal!

Water your sunflower microgreens by placing the tray inside a larger tray or tub.

 

This allows the seeds to receive water from the bottom without disturbing them from the top. You don’t want to displace any of the dirt or disturb the seedlings’ root structure.

 

As the seeds grow and start to push up, move them to a sunny spot (like a bright window) and continue to water them regularly.

 

You CAN use a grow light if you want, but it’s not strictly necessary, since your sunflower microgreens will be harvested in a few days.

 

In a week to a week and a half, the sunflower shoots should be about 4” tall.

 

Harvest your sunflower microgreens!

 

Once they’re about 4″ tall, it’s time to harvest the fruits of your labor. Cut your sunflower microgreens right above soil level and store them in a sealable plastic bag.  They should last 4-5 days in your refrigerator.

 

To use them, pull out the amount you need for each recipe, and rinse them carefully under cool, running water.

 

Use this easy method to grow these tasty greens whenever you want them. Because they’re ready to harvest so quickly, they don’t require a ton of planning ahead, and because they last for 4-5 days when refrigerated, they can also be ready to use when you’re ready for them.

Grow sunflower microgreens for a healthy snack!

Ideas to use your sunflower microgreens

 

Try your first harvest in a simple summer salad:

Mix sunflower microgreens with peeled and cubed blood oranges and avocados, peeled and shredded carrots, and chopped walnuts or pecans. Dress with a light vinaigrette dressing and add slices of crusty, homemade bread for a delicious summer meal.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

What’s your favorite way to use sunflower microgreens? Leave a comment below!

What Seedlings Can You Start In February? [Planting Guide]

What Seedlings Can You Start In February? [Planting Guide]

February is usually a dreary month, but it’s also a great month to get started on your garden (I have!). I’m sure you’re wondering “What seedlings can you start in February?,” and you might even think I’m a little bit crazy (I probably am).

 

February is a rather ambitious time of year to start seedlings, since in most northern states, the freezing temperatures can make it rather difficult to support thriving young plants.

 

This article is an excerpt from my best selling gardening book, Organic By Choice. It has everything you need to grow a garden that delivers you a full harvest.

Click here to buy the paperback version and get the digital version for FREE.

On the other hand, in many southern states, the climate can be too unpredictable to determine if outdoor planting will actually be worth the effort.

 

With that being said, to answer the question “What seedlings can you start in February?,” there are particular plants that flourish well even during the icy months.  

 

Before we get started with what seedlings you can start in February, there’s some general tips you should consider, since they’re the difference between success and a seedling flop:

 

  • The approximate planting date you can set young plants to harden off. You need to pick a date after the last frost of the spring that you’ll actually start planting in your outdoor garden, then count backwards 10 weeks. This is the date you should start your seedlings.
  • After placing each seedling, if you plan to use lights, set the lights about 2-3” above the tops of the plants, or pots (for seedlings that haven’t sprouted yet).
  • You need to first ensure that you have a hoop house or cold frame available to transplant the seedlings in.

 

So, now let’s answer the question “What seedlings can you start in February?” Here’s some answers:

 

Onions

This robust crop can easily withstand freezes and frosts.  Start them out in warm zones (between 5-7), and transplant them after a good 8-10 weeks.

 

Microgreens

Although microgreens are not exactly what you think of when you imagine seedlings growing in your greenhouse, they STILL are something you can grow in February.

 

Spinach, flax, and bean sprouts are examples. When starting your microgreens, they must be sprayed consistently, and harvested at the micro stage.  These goodies are perfect for salads and sandwich toppings!

 

 

Leeks

These green treats resemble giant scallions, and are excellent for sub-freezing temperatures – they have proven to be cold-hardy down to approximately 5° Fahrenheit!

 

Broccoli

Broccoli seedlings do best the best when soil temperatures are between 60°-70°F, but can germinate as low as 40°F.  

 

Start growing broccoli seedlings indoors about 6 weeks before the last spring frost.  Set out the hardened-off seedlings when they are approximately 4 weeks old, and set the transplants 2-3 weeks before the last spring frost.

 

Cabbage

Cabbage prefers to only grow in cold temperatures (crazy, I know).  Begin growing this leafy plant indoors approximately 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost.  

 

Harden off the plants over a 7 day period, and transplant outdoors 2-3 weeks before the last spring frost.

 

Herbs

Herbs are rather simple to plant and tend to, and the nice thing about herbs is they’re pretty portable throughout most stages of growing (so if you need to pull them inside because of a surprise cold-snap, no worries!).  

 

Start planting herbs about eight to ten weeks before the last frost of the season, then transplant them into pots.  Should another unexpected frost occur, the pots can simply be brought inside.  

 

The best herbs to start growing at this time are basil, oregano, thyme, chives, and parsley. We love basil (yay pesto!), so that’s big on my list this year!

 

Lettuce

Sprout lettuce seedlings in a large 4” pot.  Lettuce grows rapidly, so the larger pot means that it’s easier to accommodate it as it grows.  

 

Use a cold frame to protect your baby lettuce if you plan to put the seedlings out in March before the weather has turned warm.

 

Spinach

Spinach should be planted indoors in to prepare it for transplant in March.  

 

Like with lettuce, spinach must be planted in a large 4” pot, however, this is more so due it the large size of its taproot rather than its rate of growth.  

 

Because of its long taproot, spinach seedlings do not transplant easily (I honestly start spinach outside, directly sowing it into the soil to make things easy on myself, BUT you can start seedlings in February if you’re committed).

 

When you do transplant the seedlings, make sure you leave a lot of soil around the spinach roots.

 

Swiss Chard

This crop is quite cold-hardy and can be transplanted in March in a cold frame. Personally, I don’t like swiss chard so I grow it for Dahlia and the rabbits, who have a more appreciative taste for it.

 

Kale

Kale is an incredibly resilient plant and thrives in colder temperatures, and the funny thing about kale, is it tastes better if it’s been through a frost!  

 

For a sweeter-tasting yield, start seedlings in February, and transplant to the garden in mid-March.

 

What are some other things you can do in February to get started for spring? Here’s what else we got going on:

 

  • Pruning apple and pear trees.
  • Pruning currants and gooseberries.
  • Pruning raspberry bushes

I’d like to hear from you!

 

Did you wonder “What seedlings can you start in February?” Which will you start? Leave a comment below!