The January blahs are here and garden weather feels so far away, but this is the time to dream and plan! So much work can be done for the garden in January to set you up for a successful garden year so let’s jump in and take advantage of this time.
Know your frost dates
Knowing your last and first frost dates is important for two reasons.
First, you will know how long your growing season will be and help decide what plants you can actually grow in your garden. If the plants growing season is a lot longer than your growing season it might not be worth taking up valuable real estate in your garden because you are so much less likely to actually harvest anything.
Second, knowing your last frost date will help you work backwards when deciding when to start your seeds. You don’t want to start your seeds too early leading to the plants needing to be transplanted several times before going into the ground. Ideally you will be able to transplant from their original plugs right into the ground or with only 1 additional transplant. Potting up and transplanting is very stressful on the plant. The less you do the better.
An important note about your last frost date is to be prepared that you may need to wait a week or two before transplanting seedlings into the garden. I never put it past Mother Nature to bless us with a June snow storm.
To find your frost dates a great resource is Almanac.com
Know your grow zone
Knowing your grow zone or hardiness zone becomes important when you are looking at perennial plants and trees for your garden. The grow zone tells you on average how cold your winters get and whether or not a plant could survive those conditions over winter. If you are planning on only growing annuals I your garden this can typically be overlooked as long as you are able to harvest within your frost dates.
You can find more information about your particular grow zone at:
Consider your companions
Whether you plant vegetables, herbs, or flowers harnessing the natural supports plants can give each other can not only help the plants but help lighten your workload. These helpful plants are known as companion plants and every plant has a group of friends that help them thrive when planted in the same spaces. Take the North American Indigenous practice of planting the Three Sisters. By planting corn, beans and squash together the plants provide physical support for each other, add nutrients to the soil and ground cover to ward off weeds.
Another way to use companions is planting flowers that will attract polinators. The more pollinators in the garden the more fruitful it can be. I have found this especially helpful when it came to zucchini and squash. They produce big beautiful flowers that tend to be hidden by their abundant full leaves. By planting flowers amongst them you are increasing the chance that pollinators will find the flowers under those leaves.
My favourite and most versatile pollinator attracting companion is Calendula.Calendula is not only beautiful in the garden or vase but also edible and medicinal.
My Go to companions
- Calendula with everything
- Zinnias with Everything
- Basil and tomatoes
- Squash, beans and corn
- Sunflowers and pole beans
- Summer Squash and merigolds
- cucumber (if trellised) and dill
- tomatoes and lettuce
Planning your garden layout
Once you know what you want to plant, it’s time to plot out your space on paper. Know the space you actually have. Take some time to look a the seeds you want, and know how much space each plant needs. This way you can have a detailed plan in place once it comes time to plant. You will know how much to plant when starting your seeds later in the winter.
Order your seeds
Once you have your garden planned it’s time order your seeds. It might feel a little early but I can promise you it isn’t! With the rise in the popularity of gardening in the last few years, it can be a challenge to get the seeds for the varieties you want. I recommend ordering during the harvest (September or October) but if you missed that window, now is the time.
Although summer seems so far away it is not too early to start planning and dreaming about those morning walks through your summer garden.
Other Gardening Posts You May Enjoy:
First Steps to Planning Your Garden
Things to consider when planning a new garden plot
What to do in your garden in February
Why are garden walks so important?
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