Staff Column

It's almost time

Jess Oaks
Posted 1/26/24

Whew...we made it.

There is something about the month of January that is big giant Monday.

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Staff Column

It's almost time


Whew...we made it. 

There is something about the month of January that is big giant Monday. 

As the month after Christmas, and normally, one of the coldest months, January is normally frigid and boring. We have already enjoyed the holidays and festivities with our families and friends. And now we wait...What are we waiting for, you ask?


We have all been holding out through months of falling leaves, pumpkin spice, and snow...for spring. Yes, I know, it snows in the spring, and I am perfectly okay with that concept. Snow has a different feeling after January. The earth smells differently when it gets wet, after January.

This morning, I stepped outside. The air was cold and crisp, and a heavy fog hugged the ground. There is still a blanket of snow and thick ice spread out on the ground...but the air smells differently. 

For me, the month of January is a planning period. You see, I love to garden. I love to be able to provide my family, friends, and neighbors with fruits, herbs, and vegetables. I enjoy watching the seeds I have planted grow into food my family can eat. 

January is normally when I start asking my family what they would like to grow, and we start planning out the garden.

When I was a growing up, my mom always had a garden. It was a family garden, and we were all expected to do our part. Mom would spend weeks harvesting and canning the products of our toil. It was a hot, long, and tiresome process but Mom always made sure we were prepared for the cold months ahead by filling our pantry and freezers. I can remember sneaking into the skinned red beets chilling in the fridge before they were canned...Mom always could tell I had been snacking on them since they stained my fingers. 

Mom spent years planning her garden. What I mean is, she was constantly researching ways to improve her yields. She was always looking for something new and exciting to add to her beds. She spent years researching methods of propagation, fertilizers, growing medias and so on. 

Over the years, she found a tremendous success in “companion planting” and I use the practice today. 

I do recommend soil testing and water testing before you begin your planting journey. It is important to have some knowledge when it comes to the type of soil you plant in. Some plants do better in certain soils. Take the time to test because it is much easier to treat the soil for deficiencies before you try planting. 

The same goes for your water source. Test your water. If you’re like me, you may need to treat your water sources too. We have recently relocated, and our well water has a high sodium content. I will be spending the remainder of my month developing a solution. 

But in the meantime, I will be plotting out my companion plants. 

Companion planting is simple. Some plants do better together. We see this same concept with traditional row crow farming too when we look at rotation planting. 

Planting your patch of sweet corn next to pole beans will not only help with nitrogen in the soil, but the pole bean vine can also help prevent pests from sneaking into your corn. Our ancestors planted pumpkins and squash with corn plants. The tiny hairs on the vines of gourd, pumpkin and other squash plants help detour raccoons raiding your harvest. 

In my house, there was a copy of Carrots Love Tomatoes, by Louise Riotte. The front cover of the book, well warn and dirt-stained, famously read ‘secrets of companion planting for successful gardening.’ Some of the pages were dog-eared. Mom’s notes were personally transcribed in the blank margins. That book went everywhere with her. 

If you haven’t heard of companion planting, I suggest you look. 

There is nothing more enjoyable than using the last hurrah of winter to plan out your garden. 

Happy almost spring!