January is usually the month when gardeners begin to feel that gardening itch again. As the day length ever so gradually starts to grow, we feel the excitement of a new gardening season beginning to grow within us.
But, since we can’t actually get out in the garden yet, one of the most productive things gardeners can do now is plan, plan, plan.
Great gardens certainly do require plans, and once the spring season arrives, no one will want to be indoors planning. So, get those plans made now. But remember to keep it fun, if planning isn’t your thing that is ok. It is really the joy of gardening and the benefits of being in nature that count the most.
Things to consider
What do you like to eat? It seems like a no brainer, but choose to grow what you will actually enjoy, eating and sharing. Here’s the good news, in Kansas a WIDE variety of vegetables can be grown. Everyone can find something to grow that they will enjoy. Don’t be afraid to experiment with unfamiliar vegetables, but plan to be able to use most of the vegetables you produce.
How much space do you have? Space available and individual preferences play an important part in deciding what to grow. Beans, beets, summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, radishes, and turnips are well adapted for growth when space is limited. Sweet corn, vine squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons require more space for growth and should be considered only if adequate space is available.
How will you optimize that space? Use the Vegetable Garden Calendar to plan your garden space. For example: spinach, lettuce, radishes, peas, and green onions can be harvested early in the gardening season. That same space is then available to grow late season crops of beans, eggplant, tomatoes, or even potatoes. You can also optimize space by interplanting crops like lettuce, radishes, or spinach between rows of potatoes, cabbage, or other cole crops. Before the potatoes or cole crops get very large, the other crops will have been harvested.
If you plan to incorporate perennial vegetables such as rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries or bush fruits, be sure to plant them on an edge of the garden where they won’t be in the way if the garden is tilled.
Vegetables can be grown in a myriad of ways, even in small spaces. Get creative and use what space you do have well. Keep in mind that vegetables require full sun (6-8 hours) to be most productive.
Make a sketch. Draw a sketch of your garden space and plan the garden with the above information and our vegetable garden planning guide. This will help you figure out how much seed or how many plants you’ll need to purchase or grow. Consider including a plan for crop rotation in your garden plan as well. Rotating vegetables in the garden each season can help prevent the build up of certain diseases due to the same crop growing in the same soil each year.
Obtaining seeds and plants: When choosing varieties for the home garden, consider factors such as disease resistance, yield, maturity date, size, shape, color, and flavor. Many Extension/Agricultural research stations are constantly developing and testing improved vegetable varieties. It is a great idea to talk to other local gardeners and see what they have been successful with as well. A good starting place for research on vegetable varieties is the Recommended Vegetable Varieties for Kansas list.
Some gardeners prefer to start their own vegetable transplants from seed at home while others find it easier to purchase the transplants when it is time for them to go into the garden. This seed starting post provides information on when to start your seeds at home for transplanting into the garden.
Planting at the correct time: The planting date for each crop is determined by local weather (especially soil temperature) and the nature of the various garden vegetables. Some vegetables require warm soil and air temperatures. Others will grow in colder temperatures. Be sure to research when the appropriate time is to plant each crop. You can check the current soil temperatures around the state of Kansas by visiting the KSU Mesonet soil temperature page.
This vegetable information chart will provide even more information for your garden plan and for a comprehensive resource please use our Kansas Garden Guide.
|Crop||Type of Planting||Plants or Seeds Per 100′ Row||Optimum Temperature (F)||Depth of Planting (In.)||Avg. Spacing Within Row (In.)||Avg. Spacing Between Rows (In.)||Frost Resistance|
|Asparagus||Seed (Transplant)||2 oz.||65-75||1||3||6||Hardy|
|Beans Snap||Seeded||½ Ib.||70–85||2||3–4||36||Tender|
|Broccoli||Seed or Transplant||½ oz. or 75||(50–60)||(½)||18–24||36||Hardy|
|Brussels Sprouts||Seed or Transplant||½ oz.or 100||(50–60)||(½)||12–18||36||Hardy|
|Cabbage||Seed or Transplant||½ oz. or 75||(50–60)||(½)||12-18||36||Hardy|
|Chinese Cabbage||Seeded||¼ oz.||55–70||½||10–12||36||Hardy|
|Cauliflower||Seed or Transplant||½ oz.or 75||(55–70)||(½)||18–24||36||Half-Hardy|
|Cucumbers||Seed or Plants||½ oz.||75–85||½ –1||10–48||48–72||Very Tender|
|Eggplant||Transplants||50 plants||(75–85)||—||18–24||36||Very Tender|
|Kohlrabi||Seed or Transplant||¼ oz.||(50–60)||(½)||5–6||18–24||Hardy|
|Lettuce (Seed)||Seeded||½ oz.||50–70||¼||2–4||18–24||Half-Hardy|
|Lettuce (Plants)||Transplants||100–200 plants||(50–70)||(¼)||2–4||18–24||Half-Hardy|
|Head Lettuce||Seed or Transplants||1½ oz. or 75||60–70||½||12–15||18–24||Half-Hardy|
|Muskmelon||Seed or Plants||½ oz.||75–85||1–1½||48–72||48–72||Very Tender|
|Onion (Sets)||Sets||2 qts.||—||1½ –2||3–4||12–24||Hardy|
|Onion (Plants)||Transplants||300 plants||—||1½ –2||3–4||12–24||Hardy|
|Potatoes||Tuber Pieces||10 Ibs.||50–60||2–3||8–12||36||Half-Hardy|
|Squash—Summer||Seeded||1 oz.||75–85||1||36–48||48–72||Very Tender|
|Squash—Winter||Seeded||1 oz.||75–85||1||60–72||96||Very Tender|
|Sweet Corn||Seeded||½ Ib.||70–80||2||14–18||36||Tender|
|Sweet Potatoes||Plants||75–100 plants||—||—||12–16||36–48||Very Tender|
|Swiss Chard||Seeded||1 oz.||55–70||½–1||6–8||18–24||Half-Tender|
|Tomato||Direct Seeded||¼ oz.||75–85||½||24–48||36–42||Tender|
|Watermelon||Seeded||1 oz.||80–90||1–2||72–90||72–90||Very Tender|