I’m looking through seed catalogs. I have been dreaming and glossy photo shopping for a month now, but today I am sitting with my garden journal–where I keep track of what and where I grew vegetables and flowers last year, as well as a rough map for this year’s garden. I have a pad of paper and a pencil and I’m going back to the turned down and book marked pages and making the final cut. It’s time to order.
Some seeds I start in the house—not so many these days, but a few. Others are planted according to directions on the back of seed packets, knowledge I’ve gained from previous years, and all loosely based on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
If you’ve not gardened much, the references to zones in seed catalogs, in nurseries and on packaging can be confusing. Basically, the Hardiness Zone Map gives garden climate information. Gardeners can use the map to check where plants have grown well, and particularly in northern climates, which plants can withstand cold temperatures.
The first such map was published in 1960, and divided North America into 11 zones. Each zone is approximately 10 degrees warmer than the previous zone. The USDA reissued a map in 1990, and then again in 2012. Each map shows the mean extreme temperatures in each zone over a 30-year period. The 1990 map added Mexico and Canada; the most recent map added zones 12 and 13. “A” and “B” have also been added to some zones.
To find your own zone, CLICK HERE, and just put in your zip code.
For a little more information, as well as another zone finder, look over the National Gardening Association’s Website.
Knowing your “zone” helps a bit when you’re ordering seeds, planting your garden, or even just talking to other gardeners.