Root Veggies, Leafy Greens and Nasturtiums: Growing Your Schoolyard Garden in January

Photo by Jason Van Haverbeke

Here at LAF2S, our approach to growing in January is much like our approach to most all things in these first weeks of the New Year: eager to lay the groundwork for an abundant 2016 and hopeful for the growth that coming months might yield. We tend to think of this moment as a fitting one for taking pause and taking stock -- of our soil's health, of our garden curriculum, and of our planting schedule for the remaining winter and forthcoming spring (we do admit, though, that we're not quite ready to grapple with those looming (read: scorching) summer months just yet!). What better time to finally start that classroom vermicompost or map out your garden plan for the semester with your students? So, as we bound further and further into this new year, here are our best suggestions for putting down some good roots this month.

January is an ideal time for direct seeding hardy root vegetables (namely, beets, radishes, short carrots, and turnips), leafy greens (collards, lettuces, mustards, and spinach), as well as other delicious veggies like English peas, leeks and kohlrabi. Planning ahead for February and March, January is the perfect time to seed indoor starts of broccoli, eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard, tomatoes and peppers. And if you're looking to add some spice to your garden, consider planting some edible nasturtiums! On top of being an extraordinary pollinator attractant, this power-flower's spicy, edible leaves tend to be universally loved by student-growers of all ages (bonus for our littlest gardeners: the seeds are quite large and easy for itty bitty hands to hold and plant!). 

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Don't forget to check out the USDA's new webinar series, "Planning for Farm to School Success in 2016," in which biweekly episodes through May will cover a vast range of farm to school topics. The next webinar, "Setting Goals and Establishing an Evaluation Baseline," will take place on Thursday, January 28th at 1PM CST. You can register and find the full schedule here as well as on our calendar

As with all of our planting guides, we strongly encourage you to refer to LSU AgCenter's Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide. There, you'll find not only their planting calendar but also an accompanying guide to the best plant varieties for Louisiana. The suggestions you see here come from a combination of both LSU AgCenter's and Parkway Partners' resources.