January always seems to be a busy month of sowing on social media, but in truth, you don’t HAVE to start your seeds yet. The reason so many people do is simply because they can and can therefore steal a little bit of time back from Mother Nature.
A great example of this is peppers and chillies. Two warm crops that need long sunny seasons to produce at their best, with chillies, some varieties are notoriously difficult to germinate or can take weeks. So an early start gives you time for a second sowing should you need it.
Should you sow your seeds in January?
Well, this is a decision which you will have to make for yourself I’m afraid. Sowing in January raises the issue that it is too cold for some seeds to germinate and then too cold for those seedlings to survive. It is also dark with less daylight than in spring and summer months, therefore any plants you do grow won’t get appropriate levels of light.
You can get around this by using artificial heat and light in the form of heat mats to raise the temperature of your compost and help encourage your seeds to germinate, heating to maintain temperatures that your plants will be comfortable in and grow lights to provide the recommended amount of daylight for those little seedlings.
However, not only does this add a cost to your growing but it also adds a level of responsibility too, you will now have to care for these little plants until it is warm enough for them to move out into your greenhouse or garden.
I covered all my main positives and minuses for the decision of whether to sow your seeds in January or not in a recent video.
Should you sow your seeds in January or wait…
If you choose not to wait, here are some ideas from a year when I embarked on a plan for succession growing of our vegetables and I grow a lot each month.
If you are sowing in January
I am sowing again this year, in January, but I’m not sowing quite as much.
As I mentioned, lights and some form of heating are a must for seed sowing at this time of year. I’ve tried this out in a number of different ways and I’ve settled on using a large heated mat or base to germinate seeds indoors. This way I can use the warmth of the house to support those little seedlings rather than pay for extra heating unnecessarily. I have a large heated propagator for doing this, it’s called a Vitopod and I love mine. It has an extension to increase the height so that you can also use it as a form of protection for growing plants.
I found this very useful in years when I grew plants on in my greenhouse in the colder months. I could keep them in my vitopod which provided heat and protection.
I also have the lighting kit which I can use with my propagator, although you can buy the lights separately. This allows me to make sure that my little seedlings get an adequate amount of light because in these colder months, there just isn’t enough light for the plants and you do need to supplement it. I aim to mimic the daylight of our spring, which between 8 and 12 hours of light provided by the grow lights.
You can find my vitopod propagator and the grow lights I use on the Greenhouse Sensation website: https://www.greenhousesensation.co.uk/product-category/led-light-kits/
Seeds I’m sowing this January
I’m focussing on peppers this year with some additions to my list.
- King of the North (Red bell pepper)
- Orange Horizon (Orange Bell Pepper)
- Golden Caliwonder (Yellow Bell Pepper)
- Steve (Orange longer pepper)
I’ve held off on sowing my onion seeds this year and I’ve reduced the amount I’m growing.
- Ailsa Craig (brown onions)
- Red Baron (red onions)
Just for fun, I’m starting a couple of micro tomato plants that we’ll grow on in the kitchen, just to give us some early tomatoes. These will need to stay under some form of grow light for their life cycle as they will be indoors permanently but as they are micro plants and not expected to get any bigger than 30cm tall, this won’t be much of an issue.
- Aztek Yellow (yellow cherry tomato)
- Chibbiko (red cherry tomato)
If micro tomatoes sound like something fun you’d like to try, you can get lots of types from Camilla up in Aberlour. She grows and provides seeds for some fabulous tomatoes.