Seeds to Start in January – Zone 5A

It’s a new year and I’m excited to be back in the garden in just a few short months! This may be a teaser post because it’s pretty early to get into the full swing of seed starting.  I have a bit of a sad list of seeds to start in January – for Zone 5A but it is a list nonetheless.

Since there are so few seeds that you need to start this month, I thought it would be a great time to talk about seed organization, stratification, newspaper pots, and labeling your seedlings.

My Seed Organization

In case you missed it, I shared my method for organizing my seeds so I won’t ever miss a planting date, (which has been AWESOME!).

Go check that post if you want more information on that.  You can also see a video that explains how I organize my seeds.

A few days ago, I went through the seeds I ordered last fall and the packets I got for Christmas. Next, I affixed my printable labels, which you can find here. Just a little bit of research and my seeds are all organized again. Whew…relief for my OCD.

For those of you that are new here, I’m in zone 5A.  You can find your USDA planting zone, by going to this webpage and clicking “Plant Hardiness Zone.”  When you get there, all you need to do is type your zip code into the search box.

It’s the dead of winter right now and there aren’t a whole of seeds to plant.  I will be plenty busy in March and downright insane in April. Still, I thought I’d bring you all along with me and share what I’m starting for the garden.

As I said, this month is pretty slim for the garden but I have two seeds that need to be cold-stratified.  Delphinium and Wild Blackberry.  But first…

What is Stratification?

In very VERY simplified terms, stratification is a manual process of duplicating cold winter weather.  When the seeds warm up, they are awoken.  The warming after stratification says… “Yooo hooo!  It’s spring!  Get your butt growing!”

If you want a more in-depth explanation of stratification, I highly recommend you check out Prairie Nursery’s post about stratification.

My Delphinium and Wild Blackberry need to be in the refrigerator for about 45 days so I’ll start the seeds in late February/early March.  But this is what my babies look like going in the fridge.

I’ll place them in the back of the fridge where they will stay mostly dark during this process.

Vegetable Seeds to Start in January

  • Chicory (all)
  • Radicchio (all)
  • Rhubarb (all)

I talked about Rhubarb, here.  But I just want to reiterate that I REALLY love rhubarb!  Right now I have 5 established plants but I wanted to get one more in the ground and have some seedlings for friends and a local plant exchange that happens in early spring.

I’m only going to start 6 rhubarb plants and I’m using my newspaper pots.  If you’ve never folded newspaper pots, you can read about how I make those, here.  I also have a printable instruction sheet, you can get to it by clicking, here.

My tray is just an old salad mix tray and I’m covering them loosely with the plastic lid.  If you use this type of tray, I suggest you just flip the tray upside down so it doesn’t clamp tightly over the newspaper seed pots.

I have my grow lights set up to run for 8 hours, so I’ll keep an eye on these and let you know when they pop their little heads out.

Labeling Tip

One final note about labeling seed trays.  Last year, I had a bit of a fiasco because my seedlings all got mixed up.

I ended up playing detective as my plants were coming up in the garden.  I had used popsicle sticks and painter’s tape to label (along with writing in pen on the newspaper pots) my seed trays, which was not a huge issue.

I really ran into problems when I planted my seedlings in the garden.  I shared an idea to make some super cute garden stakes/labels with an embossing labeler.  I’m sorry to say that by the end of the summer, many of them failed.

To head that off this year, I bought some brown wax pencils that are supposed to withstand high heat. I bought plastic wrap-around plant labels that I plan to attach to the seedlings.

Since my whole tray is planted with rhubarb, I simply folded the label in half, wrote with my wax pencil, and laid it on top.  I’ll keep you all updated on how successful these are this year.

That’s all for today!

January is pretty slim for planting but brace yourself, spring is coming.


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