What do gardeners in Northern Nevada do in January?
Dream about the upcoming season, make plans and plant seeds…
Picture this: a warm fire, a cup of your favorite hot beverage and a stack of new seed catalogs in your lap.
Just when the holiday season is dying down the mailbox offerings of gift catalogs is replaced with seed and gardening catalogs and what a welcome relief it is. Gardeners must be the most optimistic and patient people on the planet! They have mastered the art of delayed gratification at least in this area of their lives.
Having spent most of my adult life as a garden enthusiast, I can say that January is one of the most important months of the year in gardening because it allows time away from the garden for reflection, dreaming and planning. Earmarking almost every page in the vegetable catalog and carefully reading each description, salivating over the taste of heirloom tomatoes, yearning for early snap peas and trying to pick an early, sweet hybrid corn gets a gardener through winter. “Plant a seed” is a common phrase used to mean “plant an idea or make a start”, but this never happens without the steps of reflection, dreaming and making a plan.
In northern Nevada we historically have a fairly short growing season; late spring frosts and early fall freezes can be challenging to getting a garden off to a good start and having a healthy and productive harvest. When looking at vegetable seeds the most important thing to note is the number of days….this is the predicted number of days from when the plant sprouts to when it produces. Not the number of days from when you plant it. Look for those with the shortest number of days: 75 and under is best- this applies to plants that bear a fruit or vegetable like a tomato, pepper or pea. This gives you the greatest chance of enjoying a harvest in our climate. Look for the term “early”- this is good for our area but leaves out some old favorites. Don’t be sucked into a variety that produces later, because you will only be disappointed. I will give you more tips next month on how to start seeds early and plant early.
If a new landscape is a dream, this is a great time to draw it out on paper and form a realistic plan of how to achieve it. You should be contacting contractors by late February to schedule work for irrigation and hardscape. They get really inundated by late March and April and you can have them come out for estimates and get you scheduled for work to begin when weather allows. If you are doing the work yourself, you can get started when warmer days approach. Don’t plan to buy plants too early; most perennials will not be available in nurseries until April or May. Besides, you want to have the ground work done before that. You can actually plant shrubs and trees anytime if holes can be dug. Remember that plants need water even when it is cold, so make sure you have access to irrigation to water them. The roots of plants will start growing well before the outside temperatures signal spring. And if we have a cold, dry winter (not ths year!) you should pull out a hose and give everything a good soaking every two to three weeks, especially any new plants.
For the fireside, I recommend several of my favorite seed and garden supply companies and a heavy handful of landscaping books below:
Catalogs & Websites:
Totally Tomatoes – www.totallytomato.com
Johnny’s seeds – www.johnnyseeds.com
Territorial Seed Company – www.territorialseed.com
Gardeners Supply Company – www.gardeners.com
Seed Savers Exchange – www.seedsavers.org
Burpee – www.burpee.com
High Country Gardens – www.highcountrygardens.com
Vermont Bean Seed Company – www.vermontbean.com
The Inward Garden, Messervy
Western Garden Book, Sunset
Carrots Love Tomatoes, Louise Riotte
Lasagna Gardening, Patricia Lanza
Gardening with Herbs, Emelie Tolley, Chris Mead
The Outdoor Room, David Stevens
Happy gardening dreams!