What is a gardening zone and why is it important?
A gardening zone refers to a huge area where certain types of plants will grow successfully. It has much to do with the environment and the soil in that zone. Each zone can also have mini-climates, which also effect growing conditions and particularly frost dates.
Gardening zones have been marked on gardening maps so that you can look up your growing conditions and choose plants, trees and other outdoor shrubbery accordingly. You can find a gardening zones booklet for your particular at most conservation departments, extension agencies, and some gardening centers and on the Internet. Gardening zones will also be in most good gardening books.
The United States is divided into 8 gardening zones. To know you frost dates and what will grow in you area you need to find out which gardening zone you are in. I live in a cool Zone 5A. The lakes have made me a cooler zone 5. This means in order for me to grow gourds, which I really like, I have to start the seeds indoors to meet the time it takes gourds to mature. Most gourds take 80 to 125 days and I have an 80-day growing period, unless I cheat with cold frames and greenhouses.
The garden zones in the United States start at a zone 3 and going up to zone 10. For example Zone 3 has average temperatures ranging from -40 to -30 degrees fahrenheit, zone 9 has temperatures ranging between 20 degrees to 25 degrees fahrenheit and zone 11 has temperatures above 40 degrees fahrenheit. So a plant that will grow in zones 4 and 5 will not do well or may die in zones 8 through 11.
Many factors such as the sun, wind, snow, lakes and rainfall in your area can affect the temperature, which in turn affects the growth of particular plants. The growing zones in the United States have recently changed so you may have to check out your zone and conditions again.
Check this link to look at the United States Zone map: http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html
I have had trouble finding out much about the growing conditions in other countries so if you have this information and would like to share it, please help out our fellow gardeners.