Frost and Planting Dates by Zone

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Determining your plant hardiness zone can boost your gardening success significantly. This is because, you focus on growing vegetables, fruits and herbs that are native and friendly to your growing zone. Also, you enjoy a healthy and pest free garden year after year.

Understanding your planting hardiness zone

The hardiness map divides the United States into 11 zones. Every zone is about 10 degrees Fahrenheit colder or warmer as compared to its adjacent zone during winter. The hardiness zone map plays a crucial role in helping organic gardeners decide the type of plants that are likely to thrive under their specific conditions. The map is designed based on the average minimum winter temperatures per region.

The zone hardiness map also provides information regarding the extent of cold per region, the type of vegetables, herbs and flowers to grow per region. For instance, cool-season vegetables easily thrive in zone 7 areas. Meaning that gardeners can compare their climatic regions with climates where certain plants are native or grow well. As the gardener, you understand the changes you require make and the steps you should take to protect the crops from harsh weather conditions.

Your region’s last spring frost date

Knowing your region’s last frost date on average allows you to plan your organic gardening strategies. For instance, you can determine the right date to start your seedlings indoors if you plan to start your crops from seeds. Here are the first and last average frost dates per zone.

Zone first frost date last frost date

  • 1 July 15th June 15th
  • 2 August 15th May 15th
  • 3 September 15th May 15th
  • 4 September 15th May 15th
  • 5 October 15th April 15th
  • 6 October 15th April 15th
  • 7 October 15th April 15th
  • 8 November 15th March 15th
  • 9 December 15th February 15th
  • 10 December 15th January 15th and sometimes earlier.
  • 11 No frost No frost

It is advisable to start your seedlings indoors at least eight weeks before the last average frost date as per your zone. Every seed packet should indicate how soon or late you should plant the seedlings after your last frost date and if they should be planted directly into the soil or not.

Bottom line

The planting hardiness zone map was initiated to assist gardeners in determining the type of plants to grow within their region and when they should start them. It is based on annual minimum winter temperatures per the 11 regions. Though it may be hard for first-time gardeners to comprehend the zone divisions. As such, it is advisable to seek assistance from your local organic gardening store. They not only show you how to interpret the zones map but also recommend crops that will thrive year after year. You may also need to brainstorm with organic gardeners within your area to understand crops and how you can manipulate them in order to thrive within your area. I mean, you cannot eliminate all chances of growing a few crops you like because the hardiness map states that they cannot thrive under your region’s climatic conditions.

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