Garden à la Carte Team
It's Time to Plant Your Edible Garden
We're so lucky to have a long growing season in South Florida. Summertime can be brutal for plants, but with fall comes weather that is perfect for gardening. We are in zone 10b... what the heck does that mean? Here's a little information on our hardiness zone, our heat zone, and why now is the best time to call us for a free consultation:
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
If you look at most any plant label, you’ll see a zone designation, such as “Hardy to Zone 7.” These labels refer to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones, which divide North America into 11 zones based on estimates of the minimum annual temperature. A plant is considered “hardy” if it will survive the winter in that particular zone.
Each zone represents a 10º F. temperature difference and is then further subdivided into “a” and “b” according to 5º differences. Zone 1 is the coldest and is subject to frost year-round while Zone 11 is the warmest and completely frost-free. If a plant is “Hardy to Zone 7,” that means it should survive the winter in zones 7 and warmer.
Once you know the hardiness zone you live in, you can choose plants that will survive the winter in your area.
Finding Your Heat Zone
A plant may survive the winter cold in a specific area, but what about the summer heat?
Using a similar format as the Hardiness Zone Map, the American Horticultural Society has published a map defining 12 zones based on summer temperatures. The zones are defined based on how many days the temperature typically goes above 86º F.
As you can see, hardiness zones refer to plants' tolerance for cold while heat zones refer to plants' tolerance for high temperatures. Living in zone 10b means our average annual extreme minimum temperature is 35-40°F and we rarely see frost conditions; however, the heat zone map tells us how many days in a year (on average) we spend over 86°F. You may not be surprised to know that we are in zone 10 on the AHS map and we spend 150-180 days of the year above 86°F!
Many plants are now also being labeled with both the USDA Zone and the AHS Zone. If your plant only has one zone label, you can assume is the USDA Hardiness Zone.
These maps are an invaluable tool for gardeners, but keep in mind that they are not set in stone. The maps are based on historical averages and cannot possibly predict the effects of:
Sudden temperature changes, such as a late frost, that can injure or kill growing plants.
Overall plant care and health, which can affect a plant’s ability to adapt to and survive tough times.
“Micro-climates,” which occur in protected areas that may shield plants from cold and rain.
Winter-long snow cover, which insulates plants and often allows gardeners to grow plants that otherwise wouldn’t be hardy in their zone.
Other environmental factors, such as plant location, rainfall, sunshine, drainage, soil nutrients, air quality, day vs. night temperatures, elevation, etc.
Nevertheless, knowing your hardiness zone is very important and can save you time and money in the long run by helping you choose the correct plants for your garden. If a plant is not hardy or heat-tolerant in your zone, you may be able to extend its range by bringing it indoors during extreme temperatures.
Your edible garden experts (that's us!) will help you choose the right plants to fill your garden Call (754) 444-1727 today for a free consultation because now is the right time to start your new edible garden! You can also schedule a consultation via the website by clicking the Home button and scrolling down, or just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Garden a la Carte Team
Jen, Claudia, and Jen