5 vegetables to sow in January for earlier harvests and extended seasons
The early weeks of the year, often overlooked by many, present a unique opportunity to sow and grow a variety of vegetables, providing a head start for the upcoming seasons. While the majority of growers wait until spring to start, there is an advantage in seizing the moment and sowing some seeds in January.
Sowing seeds early in the year offers a multitude of benefits for gardeners. First and foremost, it provides a head start to the growing season, allowing plants to establish robust root systems before the warmer weather arrives. Early sowing also extends the overall growing period, resulting in a longer harvest window. By initiating the cultivation process in the early weeks, gardeners can take advantage of cooler temperatures, reducing the risk of certain pests and diseases. Also, by spreading your gardening jobs throughout the year you can grow more food by avoiding running out of time in the busy spring.
Creating the Right Conditions for Successful January Sowings
For a fruitful venture into January sowings, be it vegetables, flowers, or herbs, creating a nurturing environment is key. While a heated greenhouse like our S-Series offers an ideal setting for kick starting vegetables, a warm windowsill can work too.
Consider incorporating a heated propagator or a heat mat, coupled with grow lights, to provide that extra boost for your seedlings. These tools act as supplements, ensuring your plants receive the warmth and light needed for robust growth.
Aubergines are notorious for being difficult to grow in the UK but what they need is an extended growing season, spanning several months. From the initial seed sowing to the first harvest, this process can stretch up to more than six months. For those equipped to sow early and with suitable spaces for planting come spring – whether indoors within a greenhouse or polytunnel, or outdoors in a warm spot – a January start provides a significant advantage.
Optimal cultivation begins by sowing the seeds in individual pots or modules, germinating them at temperatures ranging from approximately 18-25°C. The temperature factor is a critical aspect when nurturing Aubergines, as maintaining a minimum of 15°C is essential throughout their life cycle. Any dip below this threshold potentially disrupts the plant’s development over its lengthy maturation period. It is also important to continually pot on the plants not to stagnate their growth, feed them regularly and mist the plants often to deter pests like red spider mites.
Chillies and Peppers, akin to aubergines, presents a rewarding but possibly challenging cultivation journey in the UK. They demand warmth and an extended growing season, making an early start in January a strategic advantage. To embark on optimal cultivation, sow the seeds in individual pots or modules, ensuring germination takes place within the temperature range of approximately 20-30°C. The temperature sensitivity remains a pivotal aspect in nurturing chillies and peppers, with a minimum threshold of around 15°C. Any deviation risks hampering the plant’s growth during its extensive maturation period. Only mature plants that are already producing fruit can cope well with lower temperatures. Just as with Aubergines, continuous potting on is crucial to prevent stagnation, coupled with regular feeding and checking for pests like aphids. Should aphids arrive on the scene make sure to rinse them off as often as possible.
Broad beans provide a versatile window of opportunity for gardeners. This resilient crop can find its home directly in the kitchen garden as early as October, or alternatively, you can choose to sow broad beans outdoors during late winter or early spring. Broad beans don’t demand the higher temperatures that many other seeds do; a minimum of 7°C is sufficient for germination.
If you have rodents around, which quite frankly most of us do, it is preferred to kickstart broad beans indoors by nurturing them in pots from January onwards. A favourite for January sowings is the ‘Aquadulce’ variety, and they can be planted out as soon as they’re 10cm high. At this stage the rodents are not that interested as the delicious seed has started to disappear. Another distinct advantage of stating them indoors is avoiding the seeds succumbing to rot in damp soil. Moreover, this approach guarantees an earlier crop as summer unfolds.
Cultivating onions offers a choice between sets and seeds, with sets finding their home in either autumn or spring. January and February however present a window for sowing onion seeds, offering a broader variety compared to sets.
To begin the process, sow the seeds thinly in a tray, or alternatively, place 3-4 seeds in pots or modules for later thinning. Germination typically occurs within a few weeks at temperatures ranging from 10–15°C. Maintaining adequate moisture, ample light exposure, and transplanting the onion seedlings when they reach approximately four inches in height ensures a successful cultivation journey. Should they become very tall and thin you can top them a couple of times to make them more robust.
Exploring microgreens, pea shoots stand out as a fantastic choice, offering simplicity in cultivation and swift harvests. Perfect for a windowsill, these shoots boast the advantage of two harvests from a single tray. They’re delicious and provide a burst of nutrition and are actually quite expensive to buy in the shops. The seeds on the other hand are very cheap to buy as a packet of marrowfat peas from the supermarket will do.
While peas are traditionally an early summer crop, pea shoots defy seasonal constraints, thriving year-round when cultivated indoors. For winter indoor growth, a shallow and wide tray serves as the ideal vessel. Simply fill it with compost, arrange the peas across the surface, and cover them with a thin layer of additional compost.
Maintaining the right moisture balance without waterlogging is key, and positioning the tray in a warm, well-lit spot, such as a south-facing windowsill, sets the stage for a bountiful harvest within a few weeks. Upon reaching the desired height, a quick snip of the shoots back to the first set of leaves rejuvenates the crop for one more harvest.
As you embark on this journey of January sowings, each vegetable promises a unique experience, contributing to a diverse and flourishing garden. Whether you’re nurturing the fiery kick of chillies or the versatile broad beans, January’s embrace sets the stage for a year of gardening delight. So, roll up your sleeves, plant those seeds, and let the anticipation of an earlier and extended harvest fill your gardening calendar. Happy sowing!