As January rolls around, many gardeners are starting to plan and prepare for their spring vegetable gardens; however, if you are one of those people who love to garden year round, you still have time to plant some cool-season vegetables in the garden and have great yields. January is the perfect time to plant beets, carrots, and Irish potatoes (just to name a few) in the garden and have a plentiful harvest.
Beets are a wonderful root crop to grow during the winter since they love the cold weather. They are an easy crop to grow and provide you with nutritious vegetables that have both edible foliage and roots. When planting beets, it is recommended that you plant them anywhere from 2 to 4 inches apart. Since beets are a root crop, direct-seeding is what you will have to do. You will want to use about ¾ oz. of seed per 100 feet of row and plant them at a depth of around ¼". Each beet seed will usually contain more than 1 actual seed so thinning out will probably be required. Once the seeds have germinated and sprouted, you can thin out the beets and keep them spaced to the recommended 2 to 4 inches. On average, it usually takes beet seeds about 7-14 days to germinate and roughly about 60 to 70 days later, the beets are ready to be harvested.
In order for a great beet harvest, recommended fertilization and pH needs to be met. The garden where the beets are growing needs to have a pH ranging from 6.0-7.0. Having the right soil pH will allow the plants to utilize the nutrients that are needed in order to grow and develop. When planting, you can apply 6 -7 lbs of 8-8-8 or 4 - 5 lbs of 8-24-24 and then follow-up with a side-dress application 3-4 weeks later of about 1/3 lb of ammonium nitrate (if needed). If you are thinking about planting beets in the month of January, you may want to consider the following recommended varieties: Ruby Queen, Detroit Dark Red, Red Ace, Kestrel, and Scarlet Supreme.
Carrots are another very good root crop that can be planted in the month of January and can withstand the freezing temperatures that winter brings. When planting carrots, it is recommended that you plant with fresh carrot seed; this will allow for good stands and potentially higher yields. As you plant carrots in January, it is important to plant them about 1/8” deep in the soil; I know this isn’t very deep but as the carrot grows, you allow more room for that carrot to develop and grow downward as carrots do. You do not want to seed carrots too thick because that will result in crowded stands and smaller roots which ultimately delays plant growth. Plants should be thinned to one plant every 2-3 inches; this will allow proper root development and optimize growth. With the right soil and temperature, the seed takes anywhere from 7-14 days to germinate and approximately 70-75 days to harvest.
When planting carrots, you can apply 4-5 lbs of 13-13-13 or 8-24-24 per 100 feet of row. Once the carrots have sprouted and are growing (approximately 3-4 weeks after planting), you can apply a side-dress application of about 1-2 lbs of ammonium nitrate or 2-4 lbs of calcium nitrate (a second side-dress application can be done 3-4 weeks after planting). With the right fertilizer and proper pH (about 5.5 pH), you can expect a plentiful harvest. Some of the varieties to consider are Danvers 126, Apache, Choctaw, and Maverick.
Irish potatoes are another cool-season vegetable that can be grown in January. With a well-drained garden and the right conditions, Irish potatoes can be a great asset to your garden. When planting Irish potatoes, it is recommended that you plant them about 3-4" deep and space them about 12” apart. You can plant about 10-12 lbs of seed per 100 feet of row - this would be ideal in most situations. On average it takes about 90-120 days to reach harvest; this is as long as proper management practices are followed.
Before planting, gardeners can apply about 4-6 lbs of 13-13-13 or 2 -3 lbs of 8-24-24 per 100 feet of row. You can apply additional fertilizer as a side-dress and you can use ammonium nitrate; if using ammonium nitrate, use about 2/3 lb and you can do up to two side-dress applications during the growing season. Recommended varieties of Irish potatoes are Red Lasoda, LaRouge, LaChipper, and LaBelle
The cooler season months, like January, offer a perfect time to plant root crops like the ones listed above. With the proper planting techniques and fertilizing rates, a successful harvest is right around the corner. For more information, come by or call our office at 337-788-8821 or you can visit our website.