Taking down your Christmas tree? Or maybe you didn’t have one and are ready to start thinking about what to do next in your garden?
Depending on where you live in the world, gardening through the winter can feel impossible. And it doesn’t matter what zone or area of the world you live in. All you need to know is the high and low average temperature to know how to grow through the cold.
The freeze, and the snow make gardening hard outside, but with the right set up, you could be enjoying greens, salads, and herbs throughout the months.
Be the person that walks out to their garden, whether you use containers to garden, in small, garden beds, in ground, or in a vertical planter and pick the herbs and greens you need for a soup or a bowl of lettuce for an afternoon salad.
In this article you will see that there are ways to keep your fall garden growing through the winter with these January gardening tips and to-do list by using temperatures and not zones.
What Can Gardeners do in the Winter?
Wintertime causes many perennial shrubs and trees to go to sleep or become dormant. Looking at a peach tree in the winter, it’s hard to see that the real growth is happening in the ground with the roots expanding. The peach tree needs the coldness of winter to grow strong roots so that it will flourish with fruit in the warmer months.
Don’t be discouraged with the gloom. Life and growing are happening even with the dismal weather. Don’t be fooled.
Average Temperatures are Key
Your garden plants will grow best if you know what your average high temperature and average low temperature is for each month.
It doesn’t matter where you live in the world, plants like to live in temperatures that support their growth.
How to Find Your Average Temperatures
Finding your average temperatures every month is an important step in knowing what to plant according to the temperature.
The first step is to check your local weather to find monthly averages for both high and low temperatures. Write out the average high and low for each month.
Here is a quick reference to know what season you are using these average temperatures.
Cool Season Crops:
Warm Season Crops:
Hot Season Crops:
85 degrees and hotter
By taking the time to research and track average temperatures each month, gardeners can ensure they’re picked out plants best suited for their climate and give themselves the best chance at having healthy and thriving gardens all year round.
What Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs Grow in Cool Season
Lettuces, Radishes, Spinach, Arugula, Turnips, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Beets, Parsnips, Onions, Leeks, Celery, Bok choy, Swiss chard, Snow Peas, Sweet Peas
Apples, Pears, Cranberries, Figs, Peaches, Apricots, Plums, Berries
Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Parsley
How to Protect
1. Mulching: Covering the soil with a layer of mulch helps to insulate the ground and protect the roots of plants from extreme temperatures and frost. You should aim to add a 4-inch layer of organic material such as compost or straw. This will help keep moisture in the ground, while also preventing weeds and keeping your soil temperatures regulated.
2. Hoops & Cloth or Plastic: Hoops with a securely fastened cloth or plastic is an effective way of creating a mini greenhouse atmosphere for your plants in colder weather conditions. It serves as a shelter from wind, hail and snow, while also trapping heat inside during the day and releasing it at night.
3. Cold Frames: These are simple structures that provide insulation for plants in climates. They are usually made out of wood and have an insulated glass or plastic lid that can be opened when necessary to let in some air flow but that still retains heat very well during winter days.
No Low Winter Temps?
When I lived in Los Angeles, the weather was mild during the coldest times of the year. As a family, we would go to the beach for New Year’s Eve every year to enjoy the beach and mild temperatures because it never got below 40 degrees. It felt like we were in early spring instead of winter.
Moving to Northern California, the mornings and nights filled with possible snow and frost most days. With this new change of temperatures, I learned how to take care of the garden by using a few to-dos to protect the garden and keep growing in the winter.
Where are You in the World?
Where do you find yourself in the world today? Let’s make a garden grow especially through the coldest months of the year. For me, January in the garden is cold. Here are some great tips to help you grow
Timely Tips for Winter Growing
Plant your cool weather crops 6-8 weeks before the first frost (find out dates for you here) to establish the roots of your plants.
Keep track of the temperatures and make sure to cover your garden plants with plant cloth for a light frost or plastic over hoops for colder temperatures. Remember that cool weather crops do not like to grow in temperatures colder than 35 degrees for an extended period of time.
Protecting the leaves of lettuce and greens from the direct chilly weather by using protectors is essential to keeping your garden growing.
Keep watering your garden so that the soil insulates the roots and adds another layer of protection. Don’t water every day, just once a week to keep things growing.
What can you do in January for your garden?
Trimming and pruning tree branches, dead branches, shrubs, perennial herbs, perennial flowers, and fruit trees down to the base in the fall will help these plants and fruit trees grow stronger roots. It also helps less disease happen in the garden when the temperatures start to warm up.
During January months, these shrubs, herbs, flowers, and fruit trees look dead. They are not and all you have to do is let them sleep. They are hibernating and getting stronger roots. Sow flower seeds in the fall & need the cold to stratify for spring.
For your annual garden, there are tips that will help your garden survive the frigid temperatures until things start heating up in the spring.
Make it a Habit
Taking 10 minutes a few times a week to check on your garden is all it takes to take care of your garden in the nights.
Here is a list of things to do in your garden this month. Do one task or chore a day so that gardening doesn’t take up your time, but gives you space to think and rest as you tend your garden.
Water the garden once a week (10 minutes).
Check to make sure that the hoops & row covers are secure & not letting in the wet (10 minutes).
Harvest 1/3 lettuce, greens, and herbs in a cut and come again method so that each week you can harvest, and your produce keeps growing (10 minutes).
If you live in warmer climates, add cool weather crops to your existing garden in the empty spaces. You can sow seeds.
Add organic fertilizer once a month (10 minutes).
Sit for a few moments and breathe. Listen to your heart.
If you want more 10-minute garden habits for each season, I have habit trackers for each season ready to use with a mini-course that will take you less than an hour to know how to use the resources to make gardening a 10-minute a day activity to have a garden all year.
Can Anything be Planted in January?
In areas of the world where the temperatures are below freezing, the ground and soil are rock solid and make planting difficult.
Growing a garden if your average temperature is between 50 degrees and above is possible in January. Each location with the average temperatures determines the ability to grow a seeds and seedlings.
Can you Start a Garden in January?
Starting a garden in January all depends on your average temperatures.
If you live in warmer climates, than January may be your month to start a cool season garden.
If you live in colder climates, than the ground is too frosty to even attempt a new garden & protecting what you have already planted would be the priority.
Garden Chores in the Vegetable Garden
The garden will be quiet during January but there will be a few tasks this time around. Growing in the icy temperatures gives you a perfect excuse to go outside on a beautiful day.
Or in warmer climates with warm days, you can add seeds to spaces in the garden to start on your cool season crops. Sow seeds like lettuce, greens, and root vegetables.
Gardening Tasks for Spring Planting
Use this time of the year to get ready for your next season of planting. This is the perfect time to plan out your spring garden and to get tasks done so that when spring temperatures warm up you will have all that is needed to get it planted.
Set up your growing space when you have the time.
Prepare the space or garden beds now by building, buying, or preparing.
Draw out your space.
Add the spring crops from this article to your year’s garden. Make a seed order for new seeds.
Find out your last frost date HERE.
Buy transplants or seeds at a garden center. Plant the transplants or sow seeds like root crops 6-8 weeks before last frost. You can also start seeds indoors to be ready to plant for spring.
January is a great time to plan for the year ahead. If you need more support on planning your spring in winter, then check out this online course with downloads that can be completed in less than an hour.
Can I plant anything in January?
If you live in blistery temperatures, use the time to plan out your spring garden. Starting to grow in January can be a difficult task due to weather and temperatures.
If you live in warmer climates, start adding cool season crops to your existing garden to keep growing all year as part of your garden chores.
Continuing a garden that you started in fall is very possible. Start your winter garden before the first frost in the fall.
Can I plant when the temperatures are below 35 degrees in heavy snow?
When temperatures are below 35 degrees Fahrenheit, it can be difficult to find plants that will thrive in the winter months with heavy snow.
Root crops like carrots, radishes, and turnips are cold-tolerant and can withstand frigid temperatures over the winter months and are easy seeds to plant in fall.
How does a gardener keep growing?
A gardener can take steps to ensure their space remains productive and healthy during the winter months. Cover and protect plants from frost and snow with row covers, as well as wind and frigid temperatures.
Can you start a growing in January?
It is not recommended to plant a garden in the winter months because temperatures are usually too cold for most plants and vegetables to grow. There may be frost, which can damage plants and inhibit their growth.
Since there is less sunlight during these months, it can be difficult for new plants to get the necessary nutrients that they need for photosynthesis.
If you live in an area with high winds or snowfall during the winter months, it could be dangerous for your garden due to potential damage from these conditions.
You can start a garden inside with indoor plants. You can also pick out seeds from garden catalogs and start seeds indoors to be ready to plant in the spring.
What can I do in January for the garden?
In January, gardeners can take advantage of the cooler weather and make preparations to ensure a fruitful upcoming season. To prepare for spring planting, gardeners should begin by drawing out their garden plan and preparing the area for planting. And gardening friends can also make the experience more enjoyable.