Happy New year! And happy beautiful weather, and happy plants! January is a fun month for gardening in South Florida because its mostly successes. The weather is "cool" (and by that we mean averages of the mid 70s) and your garden is mostly planted and just chugging along making you food. In the next few months you'll start to face mounting pest pressure, increased temperatures, and soil thats had most of its nutrients used up by plants already, so make sure you take the time to enjoy the ease and beauty in your January garden.
As of December 21st our days are getting longer, not shorter, which is a good thing for your garden. It means the sun will start its ascent from its southward pitch further up into the sky and your garden will likely start to get a bit more light because of that shift. Also this means we can plant some plants that are effected by the lengthening and shortening day. This is called "photoperiodism" and its why we don't plant some varieties in the fall, because the shortening day signals to the plant that winter is coming so it needs to reproduce aka "bolt" and make flowers and seeds. Sesame is a plant that we like to grow but we wait until a lengthening day to do so, since it will flower and make seeds very small if we plant it in fall.
A small patch of sesame that we planted in January and harvested on April 27th.
Now is also a good time to think about continued fertility. If you planted your garden in October and you used some compost and organic granular fertilizer to amend your soil your plants might be ready for another meal. "side dressing" and "top dressing" are terms that refers to the act of sprinkling compost or fertilizer on the top and sides of your plants that are planted in the ground. When you first plant you have loose soil so you can mix the fertilizer in, but now that you've got mature plants you cant disturb the soil so adding nutrients to the top and side is a good technique. When you water the nutrients will be dissolved because they are water soluble and the water will be pulled into the soil where the plants can drink it and the nutrients its holding. For this you can use your own homemade compost, worm castings, and any organic granular fertilizer, like our favorite Sustane 464.
Another continued fertility technique that we swear by is called "foliar feeding" and it involves mixing a nutrient solution, compost or fertilizer into water and then watering the whole plant with that. Plants can absorb many nutrients via their leaves, stems and bark so watering them with a nutrient solution will coat those areas with nutrients that they can then take in through those parts, which is super cool! Its especially useful to use this technique in your garden if you're having issues with your soil, or you aren't getting your watering right. Too much water can make it hard for roots to absorb nutrients, plus having balanced and healthy soil is one of the hardest things to achieve in a home garden (especially a new one) so foliar feeding helps you get over any humps and nutrient deficiencies you might be experiencing. We use Neptunes Harvest Fish and Seaweed Blend in most of our gardens once every 2 weeks.
Fertigating is as easy as watering your garden with a watering can. cause thats all it takes! Just add the emulsion to your can and you're ready to go.
If you are a big salad greens gardener make sure to take advantage of the weather and go hard on things like lettuce and spinach now while you can. We will stop selling lettuce greens during the first week of March. You can also harvest blanche, and freeze your hearty greens like kale and collards, and all of your herbs too. To preserve your herbs for future use in the kitchen you chop them up and add them to ice cubes!
Check out this blogpost that gives general rules and ideas for preserving herbs.
So yeah, that blog post was a little bit all over the place. but thats January i guess! Theres a little bit of harvesting, a little bit of fertilizing, a little bit of new plantings, and a little bit of preserving to be done. January and February might be our most "normal" months of the gardening season but dont dare call them boring or else the pests will hear you and theyll come running to spice up your garden life! haha!