Even though I have a winter garden here in Seattle, I admit there isn’t all that much to do in the yard during the month of January.
My cabbages are stalwart while the kales and lettuces are holding steady until the weather starts to get a bit warmer and the days get longer. The elephant garlic, planted in early October, is looking great and will sprint to life in the spring. Any beds that aren’t planted for the winter are heavily mulched with compost, foraged leaves and manure and covered in a blanket of burlap.
So, during January, I pretty much shift into research and development mode. The garden catalogs hold center stage on the kitchen table and the holiday cookbooks are put away and replaced with my motley collection of current and vintage gardening books. This is when I analyze what I did last year, coming to terms with what worked and what didn’t. I review all my garden photos to prompt my memory and then start to scratch out a game plan and goals for the year.
Last year, one of my goals was to maximize my yields in my small garden and I think I hit that goal in early July when I harvested about 80 pounds of zucchini in the first two weeks of the month. I also definitely met that mark in terms of tomatoes. Thanks to some seriously sunny and hot weather here in Seattle, I got a bumper crop that kept on giving through October.
For 2016 one of my kitchen garden goals is again to maximize my yields in my relatively small yard. In order to do this, I will be exploring different varieties and planting methods and I’ll be looking to confiscate any unused garden space. This year, it’s all fair game.
So whether you are an experienced green thumb or a garden newbie, rest assured that January is a great time to sow the seeds of a serious garden goal. To help get you started here are just a few of my favorite resources:
Territorial Seed Company in Oregon: I’ve been ordering many of my seeds (lettuces, kales, beets, winter cabbages and more) from this fabulous company for nearly 20 years now. Their catalog is filled with information and their seeds produce beautifully. Their customer service reps have always been great when I call and they can usually find an answer to my quirky question.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds: An excellent resource on the East Coast, Johnny’s catalog and offerings are off the hook. Get the catalog. Get inspired. Order and Sow. I bought my micro green seeds from them last year and they were great.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac: Yes, I know this one seems like an antiquated blast from the past, but I have my dear Dad, who was a Master Gardener, to thank for this one. For as long I can remember my Dad always had the current copy of this almanac at the ready. He’d consult it often and then prattle off into the garden. I bought a copy last year and checked the predictions for the summer in the Pacific Northwest. They predicted hot and dry so I rolled the dice, commandeered the sunniest corner of the yard, and invested in more tomatoes. The results were stupendous.
So, if you are struggling to get through the dreary days of January, cheer up, do some research and spring ahead to the bright days of summer!