Regional Gardening Guide - Zone 7-8
January 1 to January 31-- Discover what you should be doing right now. Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.
Here’s what’s happening in your gardening region:
It’s time for a fresh start in the garden! While you might not spend hours and hours outside this month, there’s plenty to do indoors to get ready for the spring season.
Your Regional reporter
Katie Elzer-Peters is the author of Beginner's Illustrated Guide to Gardening, Carolinas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, Southern Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, and many other vegetable gardening books. She lives in coastal North Carolina, where she enjoys four-season gardening.
To see what Katie's doing in her garden. Click Here!
1. Learn how to start seeds indoors
When there’s nothing much going on outside in the garden, you can spend time inside getting ready for a spring harvest. Cool weather vegetables grow well in low temperatures, but their seeds germinate best and fastest in warmer temperatures. For spring harvests of cool weather veggies including lettuce, kale, broccoli, and spinach, the key to success is starting with transplants. (Radishes, turnips, carrots and other root crops should be sown directly into the garden.) Watch our seed starting videos to learn how to get your transplants off to the best start.
2. Start seed sprouting
Sprouting is another type of indoor gardening to try this month. If you’ve never grown your own sprouts, you’re in for a treat. They’re delicious and packed with nutrition. Growing your own is much more cost-effective than buying them in the store. Throw them in salads, use on sandwiches, or as garnishes to top soups. You’ll be amazed at the big flavor these tiny greens add to your culinary creations.
3. Learn about cool weather vegetables and herbs
Some cool weather vegetables are more cold hardy than others. Kale will hang on through just about anything mother nature tries to throw at the garden, while lettuce and cilantro are more sensitive to ups and downs in the weather. They are, however, so easy to grow, and you can save yourself so much money by growing your own, that you shouldn’t be afraid to try. We offer some helpful tips to get you started. Along with lettuce, kale and Swiss chard, make room in the garden for broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and arugula.
4. Get ready for spring vegetable gardening
You’ve learned how to start your own seeds and you’ve read up on how to grow them. Now it’s time to pick out which varieties will grace your garden and then your table this spring. Radishes are one of the easiest cool weather vegetables to grow, and doesn’t require starting indoors. Watermelon is a tasty and beautiful variety, adding color to spring salads. You can “winter sow” cilantro seeds now wherever you have room in a sunny border or vegetable and they’ll sprout when it’s warm enough to grow. Lacinato Kale is a nutritious, easy to grow green that is at home in the flower boarder as well as the vegetable garden. You’ll have the best luck if you start this indoors.
5. What you need for starting seeds indoors
Transplants can cost four or five dollars a plant, which means that in one growing season you’ll make back your investment in seed starting equipment. To grow strong, healthy seedlings you need a seed starting tray, a heating mat (to keep the soil warm and discourage damping off fungus), and a light source. It really does make a huge difference in plant vigor when seedlings get plenty of strong overhead light, rather than weak sunshine coming through a window.