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Find Your Gardening Weather Zone

 

We live in a huge country. There are quite a few different "weather zones" within the United States. You should know what yours is.

 

Why? Your zone tells you the optimal time for planting in both spring and fall. You want the longest growing season you can have, but you sure don't want to lose plants to a late frost in the spring, or an early frost in the fall. Knowing your zone also gives you a good head start on plant selection. You don't want to waste time and money on plants that don't grow well with your specific weather patterns.

 

If you know your zip code, you can type it in and find your zone:

 

http://www.garden.org/zipzone/index.php?img=neusa

 

            Moving around that website will be great fun now that you know your zone, for you can plug it in to find long lists of what plants do well in your zone, too.

 

            Once you know your zone, you can pinpoint the average date of the last spring frost, and the first fall frost, using this chart:

 

http://www.garden.org/zipzone/index.php

 

            Note that this chart appears to be a little less conservative than some - meaning that in some parts of the country, you may be taking a chance by planting seeds or plants in the earlier days or weeks of the range. And if you want a fall crop of spinach, for example, you may find that the actual first frost in your area happens weeks before the chart indicates, so you may lose your crop or have your harvest shortchanged.

 

            How to avoid mistakes in garden planning around the all-important zone and first/last frost information? Simple: "cultivate" a garden mentor! Find someone who has been gardening in your area for years. It could be a neighbor, an employee of a local garden center, the friend of a friend . . . but a local expert will give you great confidence, tips, information and encouragement. Since part of the fun of learning about gardening is making new friends, establish a garden mentor for your kids' garden club, and benefit from your mentor's years of experience.

 

By Susan Darst Williams • www.KidsGardenClub.org • Planning 20 © 2012

 

 

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