The first thing you need to know to plan a successful garden is your Hardiness Zone. It tells you the lowest expected temperature your location will see in a given year. It is a key variable for plant selection. I live in Zone 5a. But it also close to 4b. That means that the lowest expected temperature can be -20F. The lowest recorded temperature I’ve seen in my garden is -17F. I have expensive data recorders. I will discuss them in a future blog.
Find any plant catalogue on the Internet and you will see references to Hardiness next to each plant. Tropical plants can’t grow in cold climates. Simple, isn’t it?
Here is the official interactive 2012 USDA Hardiness Zone Map website link.
Go there and follow the instructions. You should be able to get your zone.
Now for the check:
Contact (search on the Internet for contact or email address) the following people in your area and ask them to tell you your Hardiness Zone (be specific when providing your location).
- Local Ag Extension (State University agriculture school knowledgeable about your specific location
- Local Garden Club
- Local nurseries
- Local Farmers
Did everybody give you the same answer? I hope so, because some locations can be tricky. Take your time getting this information. If there is a difference of opinion, refer back to your Ag Extension contact and resolve it with them. I like “belts and suspenders” for the important stuff. Plus you get to develop contacts in your new endeavor.
Why do I make a big deal out of this? I need specific information on "cold" temperatures. A -5F difference in expected lowest zone temperature is important to me. It may not be a big deal to you.
Good luck finding your Hardiness Zone. It is a big, first step for plant selection.