Monthly Garden Calendar for Southwest United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By John Dromgoole



January is the month for planning and preparing our gardens for spring. This is also a time to grow here, if you have a hoop house or cold frame. We have spinach, many lettuce varieties, and more all winter long in our hoop houses.

Seed Starting. If you have a cold frame, start seeds now of onions, shallots, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, chard, celery and spinach for transplanting in February.

Astounding Asparagus. Asparagus crowns should be available now and could be planted directly into the garden. When planting asparagus, always "double dig" the bed to loosen the soil down to about 12 inches. Asparagus is a perennial with deep roots and when you plant it is the only chance you get to give it the loose soil in which it grows best.

Veggie Sowing. Late in the month sow carrots, garden peas, collards and kohlrabi directly in the garden. Onion "sets" or transplants are available now, too. Space them about 4 inches apart, then thin throughout the season as needed.

Compost Tip. Now is the time to add compost and organic fertilizers to your garden soil, so they have time to break down into a form available to the plants by February. Rake back deep mulch to allow the soil to slowly warm for upcoming plantings.

Last Minute Bulbs. If you ended up with some bulbs that didn't get planted, put them in the ground now. It's not too late.

Get To Work On Early Spring Color. The same flats that we use for starting vegetables can be used for your flowers, too. Fill the flats with soilless seed starting mix, then start annuals such as snapdragons, stocks, pansies, Johnny jump-ups. You can direct sow sweet peas, larkspur, delphiniums, Oriental poppies, nasturtiums and cornflowers right into the garden.

Fruit Tree Tips. Fruit tree selections are at a peak this month—go out early for the best selections. We can grow apples, peaches, plums, persimmons, jujubes, Asian pears and more. Remember that bigger is not always better: small trees often suffer less from transplant shock than larger specimens.

Prune Those Grapes! It will soon be too late for them to recover and produce well this season.

Lawn Care. Spread a half-inch of compost on your lawn for lush grass come spring.