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The gardening department at your local hardware store is often overlooked in January, but there are plenty of things you can get going now to give you a head start on your spring planting. Depending on where you live, starting your seeds early can extend your vegetable growing season and allow your crops to mature more quickly once they’re in the ground. Here are some tips and some ideas of what you can start indoors right now.
Know your hardiness zone
Hardiness zones are designated based on the general temperature and climate factors in your area. While no metric will be perfect because there can even be slight differences in local elevation and soil temperature, these zones can give you some general information about what can be planted in the ground and when. You can find your hardiness zone on this map; for more specific information, you can contact your local university gardening extension or parks department.
Your seed packet will usually have a timeline on it that will say whether they need to be sown directly into the soil and if not, how many weeks before the expected last frost you should sow your seeds indoors. This can give you a good idea of how long your seedling will take to be ready for transplant. If you have more space, you can extend the indoor grow time and keep your plants indoors for longer; however, most people don’t have grow lights or heat lamps set up for longterm indoor grow time, so keep that in mind.
What you can plan in January in hardiness zones 1-5
As those of you who live there are probably aware, zones 1 through 5 are pretty cold in January. Unfortunately for gardeners, it will still be almost as cold at the beginning of March. If you’re hoping to start seeds indoors and plant them eight or 10 weeks from now outdoors, there’s not much you can do. However, there are a few exceptions. Seeds that take a long time to germinate like rosemary, roselles, and strawberries can be planted now indoors; these varieties can benefit from a heat mat and a grow light, but if there’s enough natural light, you can likely grow without any extras. These seeds will do well indoors for about 16 weeks before the last frost date, and you can stretch that time with larger containers and grow lights.
What you can plan in January in hardiness zone 6
In zone 6, you can add onions, celery, and parsley to your list. Since these will typically be ready for transplant between eight and 12 weeks from indoor sowing, now’s a good time to start them indoors.The advantage of starting indoors for onions is that the plants will have better yield when grown from seed rather than grown from bulbs. If you have a grow light, you can stretch indoor grow time with larger containers to include plants in the cabbage family like Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
What you can plan in January in hardiness zone 7
In zone 7, you can add kale and lettuce to your lineup, and make sure to get your onions, celery, and herbs like parsley and rosemary sown by mid-month, as your window for planting these indoors will be closing quickly. Getting herbs in the ground with enough time to get the roots established for the season is important to get a good yield. You can also plant your brassicas like cabbage and cauliflower indoors as well.
What you can plan in January in hardiness zone 8
In zone 8, add peppers to your list, as these need some extra time to mature in order to be ready for transplant. Lettuce and kale, as well as any cool season crops like broccoli can be started indoors now too. These can be transplanted as soon as eight weeks from when they’re sown, just in time for last frost in most of zone 8.
What you can plan in January in hardiness zones 9 and 10
In zones 9 and 10, start warmer season crops like peas, melon, cucumber, tomato, squash, and peppers now. Cooler season crops are probably just about ready to go in the ground.
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