January Gardening Tips

While many people are still recovering from the holiday season, avid gardeners know that January is the time to start thinking about getting started with your home garden.  Seed catalogs are arriving in mailboxes all over the nation, tempting the gardener that is staring out the frosty window and dreaming of spring.

The good news is that you can get that green thumb active again and find home garden tips to get you started. There are plenty of gardening projects to do, beginning in January.

Buy Seeds

One of the most enjoyable gardening activities for this month is buying seeds. You may want to take the time to draw out your garden plot on graph paper.  This will ensure that you have the correct amount of seeds for each variety that you are planning. Pre-planning is one of the best home garden tips and will save you not only time, but money.  Luckily, the influx of seed catalogs should give you plenty of options.

Determine Last Spring Frost

Once you have your seeds in hand, you need to determine the date of your last spring frost. This will vary quite a bit depending on your particular area of Oregon.

If you live in a warm area, such as Brookings, your date of last frost could be as soon as mid April. Cold, mountainous areas could still be at risk for late frost well into July.  The average is around mid May for the Willamette Valley.

Finding out the specific frost date is the most important task you can do during January.  Everything else you do will depend on this very important start date.

What to Plant in January

In January, you will most likely be doing all your seed starting indoors. The local experts at Johnson Brothers can help by sharing home garden tips to give you the specifics on starting a crop successfully.  In general, you will be planting the cold loving crops that take a long time to grow, and will be planted out before your last frost date.

Vegetable and Herb Seeds To Start

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Parsley
  • Onions
  • Chives
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Marjoram
  • Cilantro

Perennial seeds can also be sown now, if they haven’t been done already. Purchase seed starting mix for your indoor seedlings when you purchase your seeds.

Again, the last expected frost date for the Eugene\Springfield area is May 15th. So if you are from a different area, double check your frost dates and adjust the planting schedule accordingly.

Garden Jobs in January

Most of the maintenance chores and home garden tips for January deal with soil preparation.  If the soil has thawed in your area, it’s a good idea to turn it. This will start to break up the frozen layers, as well as exposing insect eggs and larvae for the birds to take care of.  In addition, if it freezes again, it will kill any exposed pests.

If you have a square foot garden, a warm day in January is ideal for cleaning out last summer’s growth and turning the soil.  If you are planning a square foot garden for the first time, you should start building your grow beds now.

Pest Control

During the colder months, there isn’t an awful lot to do when it comes to pest control. Turning the soil to expose pest eggs, as mentioned above, can be useful.  You should also take a warm day and walk around your property looking for signs of damage. Nipping a problem in the bud before it warms up significantly is much easier.

If you wait until spring is in full bloom, it may be too late to implement a good pest control strategy.  Now is a good time to research natural and organic pest control measures. Have them ready before planting time.


Seedlings that are started indoors don’t really need an awful lot of fertilizing. When they get to the juvenile stage, they can benefit from a diluted application of fish emulsion, or another organic fertilizer.

Turn to your compost pile, if you have one, and begin adding that composted organic material to your growing beds. It’s also not too late to begin composting the organic matter from your garden.