Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Plant Potatoes! And other January Planting Tips

Dear Folks,

My annual tradition is to plant my potatoes (the Irish kind - sweet potatoes are planted in May-July) on January 1st to celebrate the new year.  I also like to suggest you try a new edible to honor your new year.

Planting Potatoes.  I plant two "sizes".  I save the smallest ones from last harvest to replant.  And, if I have some organic ones left over from the holidays I cut into sections with an "eye" or two on each section and let air dry at least a day.

In the collage to the side here you, see the cut ones ready to plant.  I loosen the soil in the bed I will be using and lay the potatoes on top of the soil, then cover with leaf mulch.  I will continue to cover the plants as they grow with mulch to ensure the growing potatoes never see the light of day to stop "greening" which is a toxic condition* that cannot be cooked out.  A little bit of green on your potatoes won't hurt you but a lot will.   *Solanine is a glyco-alkaloid found in plants of the nightshade family, usually in the leaves and certain fruits.  Tomatoes for instance are safe to eat - the leaves are not.

From Internet-UnivOf-Calif
This year I am waiting for the arrival of some Purple Tree Collards, my "new" plant to try, and will be seeing how they grow in the gardens this year.  I have been wanting to try these in my gardens for a couple of years and kept missing best-shipping-time (fall/early winter) for ordering.

Brassica oleracea var. acephala is a variety of collard,  perennial in USDA Zones 8-10 and can grow 6-10 feet tall.  They can only be reproduced from cuttings.

I am hoping for more diverse greens year round with these plants.


SEED Selection:  Where possible choose short maturity (75 days or less) for maximum production.  Plant short rows in succession of veggies like carrots ( 2 feet at a time) to provide continuous harvest potential (can you really use 12 feet of carrots all at once?).  Also, start seeds like tomato, basil, eggplant and peppers  indoors under lights or in a greenhouse to set out February 1st (with frost protection)

Bok Choy
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit, Bare Root
Fruit Trees
Garlic, Green (planting cloves for use as scallions through spring - they will NOT produce heads)
Greens (lettuce, kale, arugula, spinach etc.) 
Onions, Green
Oregano, Greek
Ornamental Cabbage/Kale (Brassica Oleracea)
Peppers (seed)
Shungiku Chrysanthemum


Carnation (Dianthus)
English Daisy
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Scented Geraniums (with protection)
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet William (Dianthus)
Sweet Alyssum

GARDEN TIPS for January
    As we are nearing the end of the primary perennial planting season, I like to celebrate the start of the new year by planting at least one new plant on January 1st.  This year I am going try Purple Collard Trees (see above).
    Celebrate New Year’s Day by planting potatoes. (I like the purple ones because they are unusual and have more anti-oxidants.)
    November through January can be a ‘rainy’ season for the desert. You can usually hold off on regular watering (keep trees on your normal schedule) if you have received a half inch or more of rain within 2 days of normal watering days.  Make good use of your water meter to determine soil moisture.
    If rains are heavy this month, in addition to foregoing some water days, you may need to put down Ironite or green sand to compensate for mineral bonding (which makes iron unavailable to the plants) due to both the excess water and the cold soil.
    Prune citrus and deciduous fruit trees no later than early January before flowering starts.  Shrub trees such as pineapple guava which bloom in late spring, need to be pruned later -- in April approximately.

WHY Edible Flowers? To attract pollinators to your fruit, herbs and veggies year round and to use as safe garnishes and additions to your dining table.

FROST damage:  Do not prune until danger of frost is over - the damaged plant protects the lower growth.

FROST/FREEZE NOTE: Have protective covers ready anytime the overnight forecast is 40 or lower.


One of the delights of spring is the peach and apricot bloom time - clouds of light to dark pink flowers cover the ends of the tree branches with the bees busily doing their work.

Just as the tree's flower buds are starting open you can select a few branches to 'force' into bloom inside for a lovely arrangement.  I emphasize 'a few' because you will loose that potential fruit.

Select a branch and clip off 12-18 inches - arrange in a vase of room temperature water or slightly warmer, after re-cutting the branches under water.  You will be treated to a spring display as one after another of the flower buds are 'forced' to open in the warmth of your home.  Change or freshen the water each day - if you need to, re-cut the branch, under water, every several days to keep the moisture flowing up to the buds.

At the end of the display, add to the compost pile, or dry and use as kindling for the grill or firepit.

Coming Soon!

My New Perpetual Month-By-Month Calendar!

I am waiting for the proof copy.  This new calendar will be available in print and PDF form.

If you have family in USDA Zone 9b and above, the planting information would be helpful for them too.

I really have enjoyed creating a new yearly calendar for the last several years, bringing you new photos from the garden and adding new edibles I have grown.

I just think it is time to give you a calendar you can make your own notes on with what you "learn" from your garden!

There will be space in each month to jot seasonal information unique to your garden with extra space in the middle of the calendar for additional notes.  I am including a few recipes too!

With the PDF you can print out the pages as you need to make notes, or simply refer to the calendar as needed on any of your devices which can read a PDF.

Watch for my release posts.  The calendars will be available first through my publisher and then through sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

If you missed my post on the 25 Days of Herbs Celebrations plus, here is the link.

Have a safe and wonderful month in the garden and kitchen!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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