January Planting Guide by Zone and other January Ponderings…
There’s always something to do in the garden, no matter where you live and no matter what the season. Some of you may be lucky souls in the throws of Spring and others, like myself and buried in feet of snow as we peruse seed catalogs in front of a cozy fire.
Snow be darned, the fun is about to begin. I’ve done it… after weeks of stalling, I’ve placed my roses order from David Austin. I could have bought a rusty old car… I’ve been saving my pennies for MONTHS. But I’ll confess, it WAS hard to pull the trigger. Like tearing of a band-aid, I’m glad I did it. I can already smell that heady, myrrh-scented Desdamona.
While scouring the internet for seeds and tools, I’ve found myself astonished at our privilege of being modern gardeners. What luxury! To be able to hop online and order from a world of colorful vegetables and petals with the click of a mouse. I often lament that in most cases our instant gratification world leaves us lacking a certain amount of personal grit and character, but I must confess, I love the ease in which the modern gardener can lay her hands to her supplies.
Here in zone 5 it may seem like there is nothing to do, but there are plans to sketch, potting soil to order, lightbulbs to check and hundreds of seedling trays to bring out of storage. I’ve arranged for “seedling care” for the days I’ll be out of town and though we’ve many weeks of white ahead of us, today the eaves are dripping in the sunshine and I am full of hope.
I’ll bet there’s plenty for you to do in January as well…
My friends who live in zone 3
Can grab your seed catalogs and a highlighter over a great glass of wine and this is the PERFECT time for them to plant my personal favorite; Snapdragons. (Potomac Appleblossom is the one you saw often featured on my Youtube channel last year and here with my sweet Hobbes.)
If you live in zone 4
Why not get your seed starting system set up, check your trays, order your peat-free potting soil and make sure your heating pads still work properly for those tomatoes and peppers.
This is a great month to start many perennials from seed and move around your houseplants to get any extra light they can after the long winter.
If you live in zone 5
Join your zone four friends in getting all your seed starting equipment in order like I did. Very late in the month go ahead and start your onion seeds (I’ll hold off a bit, because I’m actually in zone 5 B…). Now is the time to make sure you’ve ordered all your spring crops like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and more.
My friends who live in zone 6
Can begin their cabbages and onions indoors, get their cold frames in order and make sure their seed orders for celery, lettuces, spinach, arugula and broccoli are in place.
If you live in zone 7
This is the perfect time to start your cabbages and onions like our zone 6 friends AND you get to start my favorite; HERBS. I’m so jelly. It’s time for you to direct sow your peas, divide your day Lillies and mow any winter cover crops.
Zone 8 friends will may want to
Harden off your cool weather crops before planting them out. Lettuces can be started indoors in January, peas can be sown late in the month and of course, it’s time for you to set out your seed potatoes to begin to sprout. My children love to help me with that one.
Zone 9 gardeners
Can direct sew beets, carrots, lettuces, peas and more and can already start their tomato seeds indoors. Geraniums can be pruned at this time of year to encourage busyness and alyssum (which I use as an über fragrant weed barrier), nasturtiums and California poppies can be direct sown. (For my flower pepper recipe containing nasturtiums click here.)
And last but not least…
My friends who live in zone 10
Are lucky enough to set out their spring crop transplants and keep them watered often (you lucky, sun-worshipping Floridians!). You can already plant your dahlia, and set out your bedding plants like pansies and my Gramma’s favorite; dianthus.
Your citrus should be tasted often to check for the perfect harvest time and any tropical plants can be pruned back after blooming.
It’s important to get a feel for your particular zone, and to research the slight variations that that happen within your zone. The U.S. Department of Agriculture zones are to be used as a plant hardiness guide, not necessarily a climate guide…
Maybe someday we’ll even talk about the little microzones that can inhabit your own garden. Talk about getting intimate with your space!
It’s amazing to see what my fellow gardeners can be doing across the country whilst I sit in my frozen tundra… but that’s O.K. A gardeners greatest skill is patience and this is my season for patience. And painting while I wait apparently.
I appreciate you being here.