Year-Round Growing Guide, January
Welcome to week 1 of our January year-round growing guide! For those with established gardens, now is a time of rest and dormancy for most of your vegetable beds. Your might still be slowly harvesting last seasons mature plants, digging carrots and beets, or cutting back kale and spinach while you browse seed catalogues and dream of spring.
If you’re beginning your 2020 garden with our handy growing guide, our recommendations to start this week are bok choy and basil. Growing information and health benefits for these delicious greens are below.
Growing Bok Choy
A hearty cabbage you can start now is the wonderfully flavored Chinese vegetable Bok Choy. Bok Choy is a shade-loving, cold-hearty cabbage cousin that can reach maturity in as little as 45 days.
For bok choy to germinate, it prefers soil temperatures of 45 to 70 degrees, and well-drained but moisture retentive soil rich in organic matter. Plant at a ¼” seed depth with 1” spacing. Seedlings emerge in 2-15 days.
If growing in a heated greenhouse, protect from temps above 70 degrees and long supplemental light exposure. Bok choy will bolt and go to seed in warm temps and long day conditions.
Lightly steamed, stir fried, roasted, or added to egg-rolls, the flavor is milder than many other cabbages, and is full of health benefits.
Health Benefits of Bok Choy
Bok choy contains folate, which aids in production and repair of DNA. Cancer cells form due to mutations in DNA, which indicates a possible link in lowering instances of cancer. Further research is needed, but studies have shown that some people who eat more cruciferous vegetables have a lower risk of developing lung, prostate, and colon cancer.
Bok choy contains vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. These antioxidants help protect cells against damage by free radicals. Bok choy also provides dietary fiber, needed for a healthy digestive system.
Unlike most other fruits and vegetables, bok choy contains the mineral selenium. Selenium prevents inflammation and decreases tumor growth rates. It also boosts immune response by stimulating production of T-cells, which identify and kill invading bacteria and viruses.
Iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin K in bok choy all contribute bone density, and iron and zinc play crucial roles in the production of collagen.
Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are all present in bok choy, and can help decrease blood pressure.
Vitamin B-6 and folate in bok choy prevent the buildup of a compound known as homocysteine, with affects heart health.
Basil is a fast-growing herb that will produce year-round. Start indoors in a sunny window sill, keeping the soil temperature at above 50 degrees until emergence. Seeds should sprout in 5 to 14 days, planted at a ¼” depth with 12-18” spacing.
Basil will have a set of true leaves in 2-3 weeks from emergence, then will rapidly reach 6 inches tall and be ready to transplant to the garden when outdoor temps are above 60 degrees nighttime low.
Basil is a flavorful herb that comes in many different varieties that add wonderful complexity, freshness, and aroma to meals in many different cultures. Italian and Thai dishes often include basil, and the many types of basil make it appealing for everything from appetizers to after-dinner drinks.
Health Benefits of Basil
Basil is rich in vitamin K, A, potassium, and calcium. It can help to reduce inflammation, which can help with arthritis. Basil also contains antioxidants and has antibacterial properties, improving cardiovascular health, and helping to prevent infection.
Preliminary studies suggest sweet basil may also be beneficial in reducing duce memory loss associated with stress and aging, reducing depression related to chronic stress, and reducing stroke damage whether given before or right after a stroke.
Basil is also reported to improve fasting blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, and protect against ulcers.
Basil oil is reported to increase mental alertness when inhaled as aromatherapy, and repel insects, such as mosquitos and ticks.
Year-round growing in a greenhouse
If you’re starting your winter garden in a heated greenhouse, you have many options for January planting. Squash, leeks, eggplant, and asparagus are hearty and will not require heating to tropical levels. Keeping the soil above frost point will start these veggies well, even as the temperature drops outdoors.
Gothic Arch Greenhouses provides the best winter shelters to help you grow all year round. If you’d like to explore your options, please give us a call today. 800-531-4769.