January a great month to plan your garden for the new year

Because various crops use different soil nutrients they should be rotated throughout the garden.

Plan in January; seed catalogues come out this time of year.

Plan in January; seed catalogues come out this time of year.

Because various crops use different soil nutrients they should be rotated throughout the garden.

This also avoids a buildup of pests and diseases that prey on a particular plant. January is a good time to plan for spring, summer, fall and winter rotations so there’s always something to eat in the garden since new seed catalogues come out this time of year and we can order the seed we need for the whole year.

Some items like garlic won’t be available until mid-summer, but we can order them now and have them delivered when we need them.

I like to include a high-protein crop for each season; peas in spring, beans in summer and corn in fall. Seed producers cultivate plants geared to each specific season, so it is worthwhile getting those that suit your garden.

Buttercrunch lettuce, for example, is a hardy variety that grows well in late fall, holds up in a cold frame and sometimes will re-grow outside in spring if left in the ground to overwinter.

Some commercial seed packets contain several varieties of the same plant that can be harvested at different times even when they’re sown at the same time.

When you plan for crops to grow in each season you accomplish three things. First, since the harvest is extended over time, you use more of your crop and don’t end up giving so much away or just composting whatever you couldn’t get around to processing. Second, you’ll be eating fresh produce for a longer period and, finally, the garden chores will be spread out and therefore easier to accomplish.

For example, sow the first crop of lettuce in one-third of the designated “lettuce” bed, then three weeks later, sow another crop in another third of the bed, and the last third of the bed in another three weeks. By the time the first crop of lettuce is ready you can re-sow that bed and so on, changing the variety as the seasons change.

Gardening is a labour of love, but it is labour. If we want to enjoy our own fresh picked food we need those spring and summer hours for work. How fortunate we have January for planning!