Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 24, 2008

When I started my garden adventure, I looked up my zone to put on my gardenweb signature or whatever, and dutifully found that I was in zone 8b.  Then I became acquainted with Judy at and found out that she also is in zone 8b, though thousands of miles away from me.  Both Judy, a vastly more experienced gardener, and I the novice, have been mystified how DIFFERENT our climates are for being in the same zone.  While I'm sitting here in 40 degree weather stunting the growth of my tomatoes, Judy's got hers planted in her SWCs and has a trellis built for her vines.  While I'm reporting dirt cracking in my potato bins, she's on her thrid board and has to add a fourth if I see her pics right.  How can this be?  We deduced that just because both our areas don't get much lower than 20 degrees at any point in the year doesn't mean that we heat up right after the last spring frost like they do in Alabama. 

Today I read in the Seattle P-I that there are actually three different maps with zones to determine what kind of climate you're in.  Knowing all three can help to determine what plants work in your area. 

The first is the USDA Hardiness Zone, which only tells you the low point of the year.  The second is the American Horticultural Society  (AHS) AHS Heat Zone Map that tells the other end of the spectrum. Instead of the USDA's low point, the AHS map shows how many days on average an area gets over 86 degrees.  In my case we're a 2, meaning we get less than 7 days over that temperature, which is about right... it's rare.  To show a major difference between Judy's garden and mine is that she's an 8.

The last is the Sunset Climate Zone Map takes into consideration an areas entire climate.  Sunset used to be just west coast, but they've expanded nationwide.  They've got 45 zones, which is a great many.  But when you're considering the length of the growing season, annual rainfall, humidity and high/low temps, you need that many.  Seattle's a 5, which is characterized as an "English Garden Climate" which makes sense because it's always been my understanding that our climate closely matches England.  Judy on the other hand, is at the other end of the spectrum at 28, which is on the Gulf Coast and is characterized by high humidity and year-round rainfall.  Funny, I thought WE had year-round rainfall. hehe.

So after reading Marty Wingate's P-I Article I've got a better feel for why Judy's garden is so far along than mine. Though if you ask her, she'll say she's going to be reading my blog with my lush garden (hopefully) and fanning herself as she watches her plants wilt and die, pining for the fall when she can plant again. 

Other than this tid-bit, I found more cracks in my potato bins, both of them. That means I'll likely see sprouts soon.  What it also means is that the bins need more water.  For all the forecasted rain lately, I think my garden needed more water, so I watered everything.  It's already easy to forget to water my potato bins and blueberries.  They're on the other side of the yard and require a different hose.   Speaking of the BBs, I need to figure out what exactly I'm doing to remove the buds.  I wish GardenGirl had that in her video, or someone else had a video. I should research that.

Finally, I didn't take pictures today, but I should tomorrow. But I swear in one day my spinach leaves went from blades of grass to half-inch wide ovals.  AMAZING!  Ain't nature wonderful, and I'm a firm believer in the hoop cover helping along my seedlings and seeds in that bed to get growth in this anemic weather we're having. 40 degrees is NOT growing weather.  Come on Spring!


  1. And don't forget about your GDD (growing degree days)- exactly why all zones are not created equal. I rarely use hardiness maps for veg as it's useless for them since most of the vegetables that people grow are annuals. Hardiness zones would only apply to perennial crops like onion and garlic (and they could, pretty much, care less). Flowers and fruits are a completely different animal.
    Find out how many GGD's you have in your own backyard, whether it's a cool or warm season veg, add days to maturity and you can plan out almost any crop imaginable.
    There's so much to learn hands-on, eh?

  2. Wow I never knew all of that about "zones"! I had no idea that there were so many different ones. And I'm off to check out those websites! Thanks :-)

  3. If you read Steve Solomon's book:

    He talks at length about the challenges of growing vegetables in our sun-challenged environment.
    And as if it's not tough enough on the average, we have to start pushing the record books for cold spring weather.

  4. After reading your blog you've inspired me to start my own sq ft garden. I've Just finished building 3 2X2 planter boxes for my large south facing condo patio. I live in Vancouver BC and look forward to comparing our progress throughout the summer.

    Thanks for the great site.

  5. [...] became acquainted with Judy at and found out that she also is in zone 8b, though thous Writer/Director Andrew Stanton Coming SoonIt's been over a decade since Pixar burst onto [...]

  6. Thanks for the great zone info!