Not everybody starts planting all on the same day. If you live
in Illinois you might start planting some time in March or April.
But if you live in Florida or Southern California you might be
able to plant things all year round. So, what guides us in knowing
when it's safe to start planting certain plants? The clue is called
climate zones and it is based on frost-free
dates for the area of the country or state where you live.
There is a frost-free date in the
spring that tells you when it's safe to start planting tender
vegetables or plants that do not like frost. There is also a first-frost
date for fall that tells you when it's going to get too
cold for a lot of things to grow well. The number of days between
these two is called the growing season.
Some plants really like the cold and do well. Other plants are
real warm weather lovers and don't even like a slight chill. With
more experience, you'll soon get to know which plants like it
cold and which ones like it warm.
find out the frost-free dates for your part of the country or
state, visit a library, garden center or Extension office and
look up or ask about the frost-free dates in your area. You may
also see large
maps with bright colors and numbers from 1 - 11 on them. These
are hardiness zone maps. You'll see
that zone 1 is the coldest (shortest growing season) up to zone
11 (longest growing season).
Another thing to keep in mind is that a date on the calendar
does not always give you the green light to start gardening. Don't
forget to always get to know your soil up
close and personal by giving it the squeeze test. This
will tell you when you can work your soil safely.