January isn’t thought of as a prime gardening month in many areas, but gardeners in frost-free locals know that it’s the perfect time for cool-season vegetables and flowers. Even in frost-free areas, January can still be a complicated month for gardeners. It may be warm enough to direct sow much of your garden, but with sometimes unpredictable winter weather, it is always a gamble. Here on our Olympic Mountain Farm, sporadic snow can last until Mar 18th or later. But with average of 242 Frost Free Days in our area, its important to time our seed sowing correctly – as some varieties of medicinal herbs simply won’t mature fast enough if they germinate later in the Spring.
We get a jump on the years growing season by starting our slowest growing seeds, such as our Blue & White Glitter Erygium, or seeds which prefer bouts of long, wet, cold stratification (think Butterfly Weed.) Germination for such seeds will occur when the soil temp rises naturally in an unheated greenhouse, or by triggering warm conditions after 6-8 weeks of cold stratification. In any case, seeds started at this time are done so for their need to germinate after time spent in cold, wet conditions. Once they’ve sprouted, you can move them into a heated greenhouse, as warm soil produces strong roots more quickly.
Out in the field, you would be wise to keep your row covers handy, just in case the weather brings an uninvited storm or a sharp cold snap. If you garden where there is a long, frozen winter, your only problem will be summoning the patience to resist starting your seeds too early. Shop for your seeds and get your supplies in order in the first weeks of January and you will be on the road to success. Your planting season is not far away!