January Gardening 2023
This ode to January is from my podcast, The Garden Culture Podcast. Each month I write a dedication to the new month and highlight what’s happening in the garden, forest, and home.
January is snowflakes on eyelashes, steam off your mug of coffee, and frost-tipped kale.
While this month marks the beginning of a new chapter for many, nature rolls on as mid-winter affords us time to plan and ponder.
The month’s fresh wind is both icy cold and wakeful, as we gain some sunlight. For the gardener, it can be Spring’s Spring. A great time to clean, organize, and prepare for the busy season. Seed packets can be organized, new seeds ordered. Tools and pots cleaned and sanitized, an inventory of soil and amendments taken.
In the home, we’re baking and combining the bustle of new goals with the slow drip of winter’s beckoning to sit still by the fire. Beeswax candles and soft light fill our evenings, a daily tea time is something we’re leaning into for the sake of civility and rhythm.
The days are lengthening and this month’s full moon falls on January 6th. This is a great moon for setting ambitious goals and fresh intentions. If you’re like me, you need to feel the energy of the new year before choosing a word or theme. This moon is a great place to start with your annual stock-taking and internal plan-making.
In the garden, bare-root trees and roses can be planted, as can many cool season crops for growers in mild climates. The succession sowing and even new seed starting has not ceased, even with this being the coldest month for most zones. Parsnips, brassicas, potatoes. Mulch plays an ever-active role and should not be discounted. Consider adding epsom salt to fruit trees, just before a good rain, as well as sow some seeds before all that yummy natural nitrogen comes down. If there is snow on the ground for you, consider just a walk through the garden to refresh your heart.
Foraging in winter is often a rare occasion though not ruled out. Conifer needles, like pine needles, are readily available, as are birch bark and branches – the inner bark a flour substitute. Maple syrup of course is being tapped out of trees, acorns and dock seeds being gathered. Rose hips are a bright spot on the horizon, as are hawthorn berries and wild cranberries.
We can also find treasures like early nettle, watercress, yarrow,, miner’s lettuce, and chickweed. Dandelion and Chicory roots are making an entrance – a great coffee substitute when roasted.
The one task I would recommend really leaning into this month is garden planning. What do you want to plant and where, how can you improve as a gardener? Consider seasonal eating this year and working to think first on what is available and ripe, then on what to make for meals.
With so much pressure around the start of the year, I urge you to listen to your own inner voice. If rest is what you need, don’t rush into setting a resolution. If you’ve got a burst of creativity knocking, then by all means, pursue it.