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  • rgreen48
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks for the links Daniel.

    Hmmm... according to the first link I'm in 7a.
    -according to the second... 6b.
    -3rd... Arbor Day Foundation... 7 (with a disclaimer that I might be in a 'microclimate'.)
    -4th... Garden helper... 6b
    -5th... Wiki... too small to read, but it looks like 7a
    -Houzz... 6
    -Stark Bro's... using their hardiness zone finder - 7a; in the spring, when I ordered blueberries - 6b

    Now, if they can only figure out whether it is natural, or anthropomorphic climate change.

  • daniel_nyc
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    For some reason I can NOT edit my first post. Don't know why. Anybody can help me, please ?
    Anyway, two more places to check your Hardiness Zone [tx rgreen48]:
    - Hardiness Zone Finder (Stark Bro's)
    - Find Your Zone (Houzz)

    .

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  • Seysonn_ 8a-NC/HZ-7
    7 years ago

    After a comment is posted following OP, the Edit Option no longer is available.

    On the USDA hardiness>
    I have written many time about this, on occasion.
    Basically, it is irrelevant when it comes to summer gardening. All it say is how harsh/cold/mild the winters are in various zones and which plants, trees , shrubs.. can survive in a given zone. I would rather use LFD and FFD to figure out the frost free season length.

    Now they have developed a somehow useful zone numbering system , called : HEAT ZONE. This one is based on number of days in which highs will reach and/or exceed 85F (30C).. Even this zoning system does not tell the whole story: How about the LOWs, How about the AVERAGES.

    Sey


  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    7 years ago

    Zones are useful in vegetable gardening to determine overwintering of various fungi, bacteria and pests. Many that say they can overwinter cannot here.

  • daniel_nyc
    Original Author
    7 years ago


  • daniel_nyc
    Original Author
    7 years ago


  • daniel_nyc
    Original Author
    7 years ago


  • daniel_nyc
    Original Author
    7 years ago


  • daniel_nyc
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    I wish I was able to EDIT the OP, with new resources.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ9, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    7 years ago

    USDA Plant Hardiness Zones are mainly valuable for perennials, in deciding what will survive the winter. They really tell you rather little about growing conditions in the summer. It has always been amazing to me how people dwell on those Hardiness Zones and plan their summer gardening around them. I used to live in western Oregon, and I now live in central Texas. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zones are *identical* in those two locales, but the summer climactic conditions couldn't be more different. Yes, the same stuff will survive winters in both places, but under no circumstances will the same stuff survive summers in both places.

    For me, it's not how "hardy" things are for the winter. It's how they grow in the summer. Heat zones, and garden zones. That's the ticket.


  • rgreen48
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The Hardiness Zones were particularly helpful for me to decide on blueberry, and grape varieties. Even more confusing are wine grapes - it's not just cold tolerance, it's also humidity and soil types.

    According to all these maps so far, I'm in 6b-7a U.S. Hardiness, and near the borders of 32 and 36 of the Sunset Gardening zones. Now, if there were a scale for Obsessive/Compulsive - Garden Anxiety - and General Garden Nuttiness, then...

  • Seysonn_ 8a-NC/HZ-7
    7 years ago

    It just depends on how well read one is on the many attendant
    zone-oriented publications that include such info as when to plant what,
    when to harvest what, planting calendars that tell you when to start
    seeds in various zones, what soil temps are required for germination,
    the nature of soil in various zones, which crops will thrive in various
    zones and which will not, seasonal tasks per zone, seed starting tips
    per zone, etc. So it can be as useful as one chooses to make it.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    That is only relevant in the beginning of the season. And most of it relates to LFD.
    Once you pass that stage it has no bearing on summer growing conditions.
    Just take a look at some of those maps. PNW is in the same zone as much of Texas, GA, AL, FL., CA ...
    Obviously, the lower the zone number, the shorter the growing season. But it won't tell you the weather will be in June, July, August. While some TX gardeners are done with tomatoes,the PNW grow season will be in full swing.


  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    7 years ago

    I agree with Dan and sey. Zone is literally nothing more than your extreme winter low. It can loosely correlate to certain more useful things like LFD and soil warming timeframes, but that doesn't make it any more useful than those things. It is lazy to try to sum up your gardening conditions into a single number.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ9, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    7 years ago

    Re blueberries and grapes, yes Hardiness Zones are important BECAUSE they're perennials. They're still shivering and trying to stay alive when it's cold. Re tomatoes, peppers, peas, corn, and beans, forget it. It doesn't matter to any of those gardening varieties if the maximum lows are 20, 10, 0, -10 or -20F. They're still in their seed packets in a nice warm house.


  • digdirt2
    7 years ago

    <That is only relevant in the beginning of the season. And most of it relates to LFD. Once you pass that stage it has no bearing on summer growing conditions.>

    That could be true if you only plant a spring garden, never do a summer, fall garden, or winter garden, only consider gardening a seasonal activity and don't consider gardening a year round activity with year round chores, never plant succession crops, never plant cover crops, don't compost actively, have only a small garden that mostly gets planted all at one time rather than a large garden that gets planted in multiple stages, only have raised beds so invest little time in learning about and fixing the nature of your native soil, etc.

    <It is lazy to try to sum up your gardening conditions into a single number.>

    Lazy? I sincerely doubt farmers, large scale gardeners, market gardeners, and commercial growers would consider all the work they do or the info from the USDA to be "lazy" so that statement is inappropriate. But no one is advocating summing up anything into a single number either. Merely that it is a tool, one of many, not something that should be ignored or shrugged off if for no other reason than all the research that goes into it.

    You may not find it helpful but then not everyone gardens in the same way you do either. Just as large scale gardeners such as myself need to remember that many garden on a comparatively small scale, small scale gardeners need to keep in mind that not all gardeners do their way either.

    Dave

  • aniajs
    7 years ago

    Zones are determined by temperature, which is determined by climate as well as seasonal cycles, so there is a lot of good information to be gained by knowing your zone. Even here, where a 20 minute drive will change you by a half or even a whole zone. I've got a "foster" garden down in the Truckee River valley in downtown Reno and I cannot overstate the effects of local microclimate variations. I grew seedlings for both gardens, which were planted at almost the same time in similar soil, and the "city" garden is ahead in production in almost everything. Zones are a good place to start for beginning gardeners and those trying to choose landscaping, although woe to them that choose landscape plants based solely on zone and not on soil, aspect, and water needs, because plants that last through a wet, snowy winter do not necessarily do well in a dry, arid one.


  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    What? My saying that it is lazy for gardeners to sum up their climate conditions with a single number is lazy is somehow calling commercial growers and the USDA lazy? And what research that goes into your zone... the zone is one single basic weather statistic, nothing more. I never said it was useless, but there are many more important statistics that are rarely cited, especially for vegetable gardening. That was exactly my point. And commercial growers most certainly look at more than their zone when deciding what when and how to plant. If you are going to call my comments inappropriate I would appreciate it if you made some sense.

  • digdirt2
    7 years ago

    You don't find being called "lazy" offensive? I think most people would. And it doesn't matter if one is a new gardener who only knows their zone#, a farmer who is well informed about what farming in his specific zone means, a blogger who writes about gardening in a particular zone, a university extension service that provides all sorts of info about gardening in their zone, or a commercial grower who participates in zone-oriented USDA research. It is a very pejorative label and out of line.

    Just because you don't understand all the information available, all the work that goes into research based on your zone, it doesn't follow that you are lazy. It also doesn't mean those of us who do understand all that and who use it as a source of information are lazy.

    Dave

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    You know I wrote this whole long thing, and just forget it. You make it impossible to have any kind of opinion that disagrees with you, and you are not the only one who knows how to garden, contrary to whatever you may think. I did NOT call you lazy, nor did I call anyone in this thread lazy, I can't imagine how I implied that professional growers are lazy, and I certainly did not mean to imply that a new gardener learning how to garden is lazy. And saying something is lazy gardening is a far cry from calling someone lazy. Your indignation is completely unjustified, and you are all roiled up because people disagree with you (and I am not the only one in this thread.) Honestly I just can't stand it anymore, I am so tired of you shouting people down, myself included, sometimes completely misunderstanding what they are saying. I think I am just going to start a blog.

  • daniel_nyc
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    I think people have the right to have different opinions.

    And offending each other will not solve ANYTHING...

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    7 years ago

    Sorry Daniel, I will let you get back to your thread. This is of course useful info for any new gardeners reading this (including everything else in the thread someone may read, including the disagreements about the usefulness of zones relative to other climate factors in vegetable gardening.) Take care!

  • Seysonn_ 8a-NC/HZ-7
    7 years ago

    Nothing is personal here.
    We have been talking about USDA zones and their meaning, significance and I , personally, questioned it is relevance to summer gardening and growing tomatoes in particular. We know that the full name of USDA zonea is actually "USDA Plants Hardiness Zones". Hardiness refers to winter and freezing condition and which plants ( trees, shrubs, perennials ) can live in each of the given zones.
    It so happens that there is a co-relation between the zone number and summer growing season length. For example we know that in zone 4 the season will be much shorter than say zone 6.. But we cannot judge , for example, how hot will be in August, in those zones

    With today's weather science and computerized data bases, there are a lot more useful info than just USDA zone numbers. I can check for example July weather data for my my location as far back as decades. There was a time that people used "farmers Almanac" as their guide. But I think its time has expired.


    Sey

  • rgreen48
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Well, while nothing is etched in stone, hardiness zones can certainly give even the summer vegetable grower an idea of which varieties they will have time (given natural conditions) to mature, and which ones they won't. As was said, if you know that your zone is high, then there's a good chance that turnips are not going to succeed past a given date. Of course the heat zone can also be as much, or more so, a useful tool.

    Meh... it's just that the more resources the grower has, the successful the potential, that's all.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The point I was trying to make that I guess I didn't fully elaborate, is that gardening requires a careful evaluation of so many different factors, soil temperatures, air temperatures both during the day and at night at various points in the growing season (especially whatever is actually going on in the garden at the time you want to plant), rainfall, latitude and sun exposure, soil drainage, soil fertility, etc etc etc, trying to say oh I am in #6 I can grow x at point y, and just calling it a day, is really grossly inadequate, and you really shouldn't expect good results doing so (though of course it is certainly possible.) In addition, there are so many better things for judging planting times and what to grow, including first and last frost dates, and temperatures during the growing period including easy to find averages on weather sites, that make zone fairly obsolete for many purposes. I think it is important for people to understand this and learn how to properly judge the climate in their garden on all levels and exercise critical thinking rather than rely on some value that for most things only has a coincidental correlation to vegetable gardening, and IMHO it is way overly relied upon. I wish someone told me all this when I started gardening. This is just my opinion and you are free to disagree - but I still say that trying to plan an entire vegetable garden around a single predefined number is pretty lazy gardening :P (Though I am sure we are all guilty of being lazy gardeners from time to time.)

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ9, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    7 years ago

    "Zones are determined by temperature, which is determined by climate as
    well as seasonal cycles, so there is a lot of good information to be
    gained by knowing your zone."

    Sure, but Hardiness Zones, which is what this thread started out as being about are about ONE THING. How cold it gets in the winter. How cold it gets in the winter is of absolutely no use to me in planning a summer garden. There are many different kinds of zones, and a gardener would be smart to pay attention to exactly what "zone" is being considered.

    I don't want to get in to the "laziness" argument, but I do find a blind adoption of a hardiness zone to represent growing conditions throughout the season to be highly simplistic and pretty much wrong.

    "hardiness zones can certainly give even the summer vegetable grower an
    idea of which varieties they will have time (given natural conditions)
    to mature, and which ones they won't."

    Ain't so. What hardiness temperatures tell you is how cold it gets in the winter. Not when it gets cold. First frost date is an important number, but it's not the hardiness zone.


  • daniel_nyc
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    peter wrote: > This is just my opinion and you are free to disagree - but I still say
    that trying to plan an entire vegetable garden around a single
    predefined number is pretty LAZY gardening...

    peter, do you think the word SUPERFICIAL would be better than LAZY ?

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Honestly Daniel, I think taking offense to me saying trying to overly simplify something is lazy gardening is a little extreme. Obviously I was not trying to offend anyone... and I am reasonably certain no one in this thread gardens that way (nevermind professional growers), so the whole thing is really silly. Really I am tired of Dave freaking out anytime I disagree with him so I really think I will just avoid posting in any thread he might be in the future.

  • aniajs
    7 years ago

    Well, I was pretty "blind" my first season gardening. And compared to a lot of the people here I still have a long way to go. My point, which I think could have been clearer, was that it doesn't hurt to know your zone, even if, as in my region, you teeter between two or three. It's a good place to start. A glace at the map tells me, for example, that I experience low temps that are on par with areas more north in latitude, which I find interesting and tells me that choices/techniques made in relatively close regions of similar latitude (i.e. Northern Cal) may not work as well or at all here. When I decided to start composting, knowledge of winter lows told me that I could expect little to no compost action in the winter, which affected my plans to turn compost into the beds in early spring. It also led me to reject the compost in place method that many, many, gardening books and blogs advocate. And when it came to choosing perennial herbs to plant in and around the garden boxes, I needed to know winter hardiness.
    The hardiness zones are not very specific, I agree, but then if they were as complex as, say, the Sunset zones there would be a lot more zones, it would be harder to compare and the map would be a hot mess.
    I suspect you could spend decades gardening and acquiring knowledge and experience and still be surprised and learn something new every season. Knowledge of hardiness zones may have limited use for summer gardening, but that isn't the same as useless.


  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ9, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    7 years ago

    That's a fair statement. I guess what perturbs me is when I hear stuff like "Since I'm in this USDA Plant Hardiness zone, I can grow this and that and the other in the summer". That's like saying "Since I have a college degree in business, I can do physics." I'd rather hear stuff like "Since my growing season is x months long, and since my temps don't get much over y, and since I have cool nights and acid soil, I can grow this that and the other. The Sunset zones really aren't that complex, and the effort invested to understand them will be repaid by the summer gardening success you get if you use them instead of the Hardiness Zones.

    Hardiness Zones are easy. They are one number (and only a few of them). But they are highly uninformative for summer gardening and can even be misleading. As I noted, I'm in the same Hardiness Zone as the western Pacific Northwest. If I tried to plant a summer garden that looked like PNW summer garden, it would be a total failure, and I'd be frustrated about missed opportunities.

  • daniel_nyc
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Peter, you're not the only one with who Dave disagreed in the past.

    Yes, I agree, sometimes he could disagree a little... nicer.

    But, the fact that he is in a thread, it shouldn't mean that you can not post your comments in THAT thread. JMO.

    Regarding the word LAZY: looks like some here were bothered with the word. Peter, it's simple: find a... synonym.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I honestly apologize if I offended anyone, as I said before that was surely not my intention - no one posting here is a lazy gardener (and that most certainly includes Dave), but really I think we are being a little too sensitive (and maybe so am I.)

    I will check out those sunset zones. I remember looking mine up and it was a 34 or something like that... not sure what that means. I will check it out.

  • Seysonn_ 8a-NC/HZ-7
    7 years ago

    "A plant's performance is governed by the total climate: length of
    growing season, timing and amount of rainfall, winter lows, summer
    highs, wind, and humidity.

    Sunset's climate zone maps take all these factors into account,
    unlike the familiar hardiness zone maps devised by the U.S. Department
    of Agriculture, which divides most of North America into zones based
    strictly on winter lows.

    The U.S.D.A. maps tell you only where a plant may survive the winter;
    our climate zone maps let you see where that plant will thrive
    year-round.

    Sunset's Climate Zones consider temperature as well as other important factors:"

    ==================

    ZONE 5: Marine influence along the Northwest coast, Puget Sound, and South Vancouver Island

    Mild
    ocean air moderates Zone 5, allowing it to produce some of the finest
    rhododendrons, Japanese maples, and rock garden plants anywhere.Heaths
    and heathers thrive in sandy soils along the coast and inland, and
    katsura trees reach their prime, rarely scorching as they may inland.
    It’s also fine country for native woodland ferns, trilliums, piggyback
    plants, vine maples, and dogwoods. Summer highs run between 65 and 70°F
    (18 and 21°C) along the coast, and between 70 and 75°F (21 and 24°C)
    inland and around Puget Sound. Such mild temperatures favor leaf
    vegetables, which are slow to bolt, and flowering ornamentals like
    begonias. Steady breezes and lower temperatures, especially along the
    coast,make windbreaks and warm microclimates critical for heat-loving
    plants..

    ======================

    That is my Sunset zone : 5

    Sey



  • digdirt2
    7 years ago

    Peter if you and I ever met face to face I think we might really be friends as we both share a strong conviction to our beliefs and we both tend to get defensive when those beliefs are questioned. I don't think I would use the term "freaking out" about either of us but we both share a tendency to somewhat over-react when directly challenged.

    Some of that is simply due to the limits of this method of communication where the written word is often open to mis-interpretation where face to face communication would not be. That is why our choice of the words we use is important.

    That said, let me try putting my point about this question this way. If one only looks at the USDA zone map then yes it provides little useful info. On its face it is nothing more than an artificial method of laying a foundation for organization - a file cabinet if you will. But the same can be said of heat zone index, Sunset zones, and all the other methods of foundation labels.

    However there is a great deal of research that goes on behind those labels (be it heat index or USDA or whatever). And all that info, organized in various files within that file cabinet is available to all regardless of the way they garden or the experience they may have and that is where all the value lies.

    Hope you don't mind if I use your 6b zone as an example since it is also part of mine. The USDA map tells me my average low temps and clicking on my state gives me a county by county map with a well defined outline of exactly where the zone lines change in my county. Just basic stuff but a good place to start. Then if I go to Google and search 'home gardening in zone 6b' (note I used home in this search) I get vegetable planting calendars, a list of plant hardiness, lists of what to plant in spring vs. summer, guides for when to start seeds, links to personal blogs from gardeners growing in zone 6b, recommendations for specific varieties of crops for the zone, articles on the various types of soil found in the zone, how to winter garden in zone 6b, a list of pdf files on how to garden within various states found with in 6b, weather maps for the zone as a whole and for various portions of that zone, general info articles on garden pests common to zone 6b and their life cycles, etc. etc. Then if I go to my state's university extension website and pick which zone in Arkansas I am in I get specific details on planting times, pests, diseases, etc. for my particular part of zone 6b, varietal recommendations, etc. This depends on the quality of your particular state/county extension services of course. If you switch 'home' in the search to 'scientific' or 'commercial' you get all sorts of research articles as well but much of it is also applicable to home gardeners.

    If I instead Google 'home vegetable gardening in Sunset zone 35' all I get is California based info. If I use 'home vegetable gardening in heat zone 8' all I get is info about heat zones themselves and the rest is all about gardening in USDA zone 8 rather than 'heat zone 8'. See what I mean about the usefulness of the various "filing cabinets". The USDA cabinet has many more files in it. :)

    Is it in any way even close to perfect? No way. Could it be improved? Obviously. But it is the best we currently have available IMO. Hope this helps clarify a little as to why I am defensive about the USDA zone organizational approach.

    Dave

  • daniel_nyc
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    So happy I started this thread. I learned so many things. Tx all.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ok Dave, I appreciate the non-confrontational discourse. :) I surely admit, I can overreact. I would appreciate it if in the future we can come to common ground before jumping at each other - I know it is possible.

    I don't disagree with what you are saying at all, of course, I just think things could be much better improved, especially in the modern information age, for vegetable gardening specifically - perennial zones certainly have a large degree of usefulness for perennials and other things. I would even be happy to volunteer to assist in any improvements. :)

    Many people don't want to do all that research, and instead are looking for some quick answer, and assume that their "zone" provides all the info they need.

    But you know what, something like a sunset zone, is still falling into the same fallicacy IMHO. Good gardening takes a lot of work and constant research, and like I said, can't be summed up into a single number. But I guess everyone needs somewhere to start, like you said.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8b, HZ9, CentTX, Sunset z30, Cfa)
    7 years ago

    I think if you take a USDA Hardiness Zone and try to use it with no other info for summer gardening, you're likely not to succeed. Not just because of heat, but also because of pests. SVBs are awful in my zone 8, but are absent in other zone 8s.

    If you take your zone and *then* go to your state extension website, then you're going to be smarter. That being said, if you went to your state extension website in the first place, you wouldn't need to bother yourself about hardiness zones.

    I won't say that USDA zones are useless for summer gardening, but many people take them to be a fundamental rule of gardening (fundamental rules that you can keep track of with the fingers on one hand are nice, I guess), and that simply isn't true. I guess they help to remember that you're in New Mexico instead of Minnesota, but that's not something you're likely to forget.