If you haven’t done so yet late January is a good time to review your last year’s garden and plan for the coming season. Pay special attention to which weeds grew in different areas. They are good indicators of the condition of your soil.Dock and morning glory indicate low calcium and phosphorus levels. Trumpet vine, dock, poke weed and other deep-rooted weeds indicate a compacted subsoil. If you’d like to learn more about garden weeds, Charles Walter’s book, “Weeds: Control Without Poison“contains a wealth of information about what weeks can tell you about your soil, and how to control them naturally.
By late-January under cover :sow onions, (WallaWalla, New York Early, Deep Purple, Evergreen Hardy White), lettuce,( Austrian Yellow, Salad Bowl, Black Seeded Simpson, Wild Garden Mix) cabbage(Early Jersey Wakefield, Early Flat Dutch, Red Acre,), spinach, early broccoli(Calabrese, Green Goliath), oriental greens(Tatsoi, Tokyo Bekana, Pak Choi. I also like to sow a small flat of quick maturing tomatoes and peppers for my earliest transplants to the open garden and spring cold frame in April.
If you need more cold frames for early plantings, Gardenway’s “Building and Using Cold Frames” has a number of simple,easy-to-build plans just right to fill a cold December day with thoughts of spring.
If you are new to food gardening you might enjoy Central Virginia Bio-intensive mini-farmer Cindy Conner’s DVD/CD “Develop a Sustainable Vegetable Garden Plan. Cindy shows you how to put together a plan unique to your garden conditions and growing preferences.
Field trips to a dozen gardens illustrate her points and accompanying CD contains, worksheets and spreadsheets to guide you thru seed buying, crop rotation, cover crop choices and planting schedules to keep your garden full and productive all year round. Keep an eye out for my new book Grow Great Vegetables in Virginia to be released by Timber Press March 2020. It is already available for pre-order online. Don’t forget to place your seed orders early to avoid disappointment, and to add something new and fun to your garden
By Ira Wallace Southern Exposure Seed Exchange & Author of the The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast