January is well upon us. We’ve had a number of spring-like days, as expected, here in Chattanooga, TN. Has it been a mild winter for you in your part of the world? Some may envy the ones who see snow, but to me, I say you can keep it. However, I do envy the fact that your bulbs are not being yanked around by the ever-changing weather. I do hope that they can get in enough cold to bloom this spring!
At Urban Horticulture Supply we have started a few new adventures. With our new store and a new year, we really wanted to give you a new read. Every month you can expect a new blog post about what to expect in the garden. We will include tips, tricks, and maybe a laugh or two in an easy guide to gardening in beautiful southeast Tennessee. Now, if you are an out of towner and would like me to include some insight on your area, let me know!
I also want to brag about some of my gardeners. We have such a diversity of growers and I want to showcase a few at the store on our wall of fame and in our monthly guide! If you would like to be put on the wall of fame, please send me your photos and any comments you would like to include. The weirder the garden, the better, just keep it legal. 😉
Now to get into the meat and potatoes! January in Chattanooga is always a trip around three seasons and sometimes we have our special guest, summer, show up when she feels like it. This creates some problems with our fruit trees and bulbs and temperature-dependent plants. If you think that our winter is too short, or you want a guaranteed bulb crop, try putting them in the fridge! Most bulbs (tulips, Hyacinth, Narcissus, crocus) require a few months in the dark and in the cold to bloom in the spring. Check your package when you purchase bulbs and see what they have to say!
Not much can go in the ground during the month of January, but there is lots to be done! January is the time to plan, test and decide. Get a good idea as to where you want your garden if you already have one, what can improve? Do you have low spots that hold water? Do you have a spot that just will not grow anything? Did you have a pest or disease problem with certain crops? Any mammal problems? Keeping a journal to remember problems and solutions is always a lifesaver! If you are more tech-savvy look for apps for journaling or just use the note app that is already on your phone! Take pictures to remember where things were. Jot down dates when your plants showed up or when you experienced out of season weather. This will save you lots of heartache in the end! Do you already keep a journal? What have you learned from it?
Between October and March is the perfect time to get your soil tested! It is a simple process. Just take at least 20 samples of soil from every plot or field from the top 6 inches below the first 3 inches (no grassroots). Take the soil from whichever plot you are testing and mix it in a large 5-gallon non-metal bucket. Stick a couple of handfuls of soil in a plastic bag or a bag provided by the UT extension office or us and send it to the lab. We have basic tests starting at $30 (shipping included). The turn around time is about two weeks, depending on the demand. The results are emailed to you and we have no problem interpreting them! If you have a spot that seems to be a trouble spot, do not include that in the sample, making it a sample of it owns. If you have any questions about soil testing, please contact us for more information!
As you patiently wait for the first day of spring, you have time to think about where you want your garden, test old seed for viability, get new seed together, start gathering seed staring and propagating materials. Measure once, cut twice is a great motto to bring into your garden. Identify any problems that could happen in the garden. Think about raised beds as an alternative to an in-ground garden. We have our smart garden that was a huge success last year! We grew more produce than three of us could handle. I was giving away peppers and tomatoes left and right. We grew a whole garden worth right in a 15’ by 30’ gravel drive in 6 fabric beds.
To-Do List For January:
· Clean Tools, Pots, Containers, and other garden accessories. Cleaning them before you store them will extend their life significantly.
· Make a layout for your garden. Try not to put crops in the same location as last year, especially if you have had any problems with pests or diseases. Try finding a good crop rotation that works for you.
· Test germination with old seed. Simply spread a handful of seeds in a wet paper towel. Whatever shows up is your germination rate. This will give you a clear plan as to what you will need to purchase more of.
What Can I Plant in January?
For Chattanooga and the southern valley (except for the mountains, sorry guys) we have four crops that we can go ahead and start indoors.
These are good to start on January 25th. We have seed trays and lights in stock! Come check out our newly extended line of seed heating mats!
If you are looking for a planting calendar for your area you can reference the Old Farmers Almanac for your specific zip-code.
You can also use the UT Extensions Vegetable Garden Planner as a reference for gardening in Tennessee.