Seeds to sow in January and yes, there are seeds that can be sown in January, even here in Scotland. But… the but is important, as it’s good to have a little bit of knowledge before you get stuck in. It may just help to make sure that your seed sowing is a success. To help you, I will give a little bit of info here and tell you about the seeds I’m sowing this month, but as always there is a video link below to a video giving you much more in-depth information.
Firstly where you live in the country is going to make a huge difference to what you can sow right now as is the place you will be sowing. If you have some heated area, could be a fancy heated greenhouse or a heated propagator. Even a sunny, bright spot in the house will help if you want to get certain seeds started off early. But you can sow some things to go in your cold greenhouse or into a cold frame. So that would be enough to allow some seedlings to grow on until spring when they can go outside.
Because of this, I’m going to use 3 terms to help you know what the possibilities are,
- undercover, and,
- direct sowing.
All I mean by these terms are, indoors is when I mean that the seeds need heat to get going and growing. This is probably going to be a sunny window sill in the house or a heated greenhouse or heated propagator, so when I say indoors I mean more like a heated environment. Undercover simply means a little bit of protection from the elements, like an unheated greenhouse/polytunnel, cold frame or maybe an unheated conservatory. Direct sowing, means sowing directly into the ground outside, so no protection from the elements.
I have garlic and onion sets in the raised beds outdoors right now, they have been there since late November and are doing well. However, I will not be sowing any seeds directly into the soil this month. Not because there are no seeds that would germinate, in fact, there are, especially things like winter lettuces which I will be sowing undercover. For me, however, the caution is because January for us is very wet as well as cold. It’s that combination of wet and cold that proves to be an issue for us and we can expect quite a few severe frost and freezes which can really damage young plants. And the very wet months for us can cause a risk of both seeds and seedlings rotting. So instead, I’ll be sowing most of my seeds undercover in the greenhouse and they can then be transplanted out into the ground when they are a bit bigger or when the risk of frosts has passed. Believe it or not, we still have risks of frosts here until late May. Something to think about in your garden.
There is a wide variety of plants that can be sown now undercover to give them a little bit of protection before they can be transplanted out into the garden. I’ve got my handy plan that I created with you guys in December (video link), so I can see at a glance what I am sowing each month and where. Looking at January I can see that undercover, I’ll be sowing some lambs lettuce (also called corn salad), pak choi and mustard that I’m starting off early. I’ve currently got a few left of all of these plants that I had sown back in autumn and they’ve been keeping us growing through winter, but now is the time to start the next succession of these to fill that hungry gap between now and May when the garden really starts to come into its own.
Lambs lettuce is a lovely little salad crop with zingy leaves that you treat a bit like spinach. Either eat it as a salad leaf or cook it. Pak choi is another favourite of ours through winter, we’ve had red pak choi going giving us these amazing large leaves and stems we’ve been adding to all sorts of dishes like stir-fries. We’re going to be sowing more and also green pak choi too for a bit of a range in colours. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of our pak choi which was growing outdoors to snails last year, the greenhouse though has been full all winter. This is a really hardy little leafy green 😀 although mine is red. And of course the mustard, we’ve got two types, both larger leaves we intend to cook with, we’ve got dragon’s tongue and wave. Again, we’ve got some started off already that we’ve been growing over winter but it’s time to succession sow the next lot.
Another one that you guys will all be very aware of on this channel and we did actually grow these through the winter last year are carrots. We’re sowing now to get them off to an early start before transplanting them out to the garden later in the spring or even to grow on in your greenhouse or polytunnel. I have two favourite varieties I grow, flyaway and purple haze. We’re doing the same thing with beetroot, an early start on our bolthardy with the intention of getting these transplanted out to the raised beds once they are small plants. But the added bonus is that beetroot make a great leafy crop to add to your salads too. You can do this with your peas too, sow now for pea shoots for salad. I had a bit of an experiment doing this in autumn and it was a failure, so lessons learned, if you want to try this, I recommend meteor as your pea variety, those have been growing happily outdoors in my raised bed and don’t seem bothered at all by the winter temperatures. And of course, those plants you don’t eat as pea shoots can be your early transplants out into the garden in spring.
There are lots more seeds you could be growing undercover this January though, some gardeners’ favourites too like broad beans. This is a really common seed to be sowing in the colder months, often it’s sown back in Autumn as a way to jump-start your plants in time for spring and get an early crop, which can also help to avoid black fly. Aquadulce and The Sutton possibly being the two most popular you will see mentioned.
It’s also a great time to get a jump start and sow your spring cabbages to either grow on in the greenhouse and polytunnel if you have beds or to transplant out to the garden later once you have established little plants. Cabbage isn’t something we grow but you’ll hear so many allotmenteers recommending All the year round as their cabbage variety for this time of year so that would definitely be a good one to give a try if you are new to cabbage growing.
So seeds I’m sowing this month that need a bit of help. Well, the first thing to know about this is the reason why you might want to sow in January using a heated propagator or indeed a sunny window sill. This is usually for those plants that have a longer growing season and you want to extend it as much as you can. For me this month, the three big seeds that I’m going to be sowing into my vitopod heated propagator are peppers, tomatoes and aubergines.
Now I’m sure it’s no surprise that after the stupendous success of the peppers last year, I am sticking with that variety. King of the North peppers have proven to be a real cracker for us, large bell peppers, huge harvests and they ripen up brilliantly in my greenhouse. I’m going for four of these plants again this year. But, things are all change with the tomatoes. Now I’m only sowing 2 varieties of tomatoes in January, the others I’ll sow in February. These are Marmande, which is a big beefsteak tomato that just tastes astounding. It’s the perfect slicer for sandwiches and burgers but the second variety is completely new to me and a bit of an experiment. I’m going with Brad’s Atomic Grape. It was a bit of an internet star last year because of it’s strange mottled appearance of bright colours. Fingers crossed it tastes good. The reason I’m spacing out my tomato sowing this year is because these two are the bigger plants and will need longer to grow to develope and ripen their fruit, so I’m giving them a head start.
Another new one for us this year is aubergine, I’m growing black beauty. We tried aubergine once before with no luck, but I’m going to give it a try this year now I have another 10 years of gardening knowledge under my belt. We do love aubergine so it’s one I’d love to be able to grow in the garden, alongside my peppers. Again though, like peppers and tomato, aubergine is a long season, hot crop. So I’m starting them off in July in order to give those plants as long as possible. Fingers crossed they are a success.
So that’s the seeds I’m sowing this January, however, don’t feel pressured to start your seeds just because I am. I have the luxury of a greenhouse and heated propagation, so I can make these early showings. Instead you do you, my videos will be there when you need them, so you can always pop back in the spring if you like. Oh, on that topic, over the next couple of months I’m going to be doing a whole heap of videos to get all the new gardeners out there ready for their seed sowing. I’m making a whole series of useful videos under the banner of “Pre-Season training for Gardeners” so make sure to keep an eye on our youtube channel so you don’t miss those. Or better yet, if you subscribe and allow notifications, you’ll get an alert every time we post a video, so you’ll never miss out. You can subscriber here: http://bit.ly/eliandkate