Nothing is more fulfilling than making your own meals at home with ingredients sourced from your own vegetable garden. However, the changing seasons can affect your growing and planting patterns and disrupt the growth of your plants. This leads to a patchy garden or, worse, the loss of your plants.
While re-planting your garden is always an option, it’s better if you can keep your existing plants alive. So, before you begin your mini sustainable garden project, your need to review your growing zone and figure out which plants can thrive in your area.
What is a Growing Zone?
Your growing zone, also known as a planting zone, is crucial to the survival of your vegetable garden. It helps you map out a planting schedule using the average first and last frost date depending on your growing zone number. It also shows you the lowest expected temperature in your area.
Once you have the numbers for your growing zone, you can co-relate it with a plant’s hardiness level. A hardiness level is a way to gauge a plant’s compatibility with the climate and its ability to survive in less-favorable climates. You can check the growing zones here.
How to Protect Your Vegetable Garden in the Winter
Even in areas with tropical or subtropical climates, nighttime temperatures can sometimes get too cold. A big enough drop in temperature can cause frost damage to even your hardiest vegetable plants overnight. To protect your plants from frost damage, seasoned gardeners advise the following:
- Plant in containers or portable raised beds that let you move your plants in warmer spots during the winter.
- Move the containers to your garage where you can create a microclimate that is warm enough for your tropical plants.
- Move them to a sunny spot in the garden to allow them to absorb as much heat as possible during the day,
- Huddle them near stone, brick, or concrete walls. These walls absorb and store heat throughout the day and radiate heat during the night. The heat coming from these walls can keep your plants warm overnight.
- Increase your plants’ ability to tolerate cold temperatures by making sure they receive proper plant nutrition.
- Make sure to use barriers and covers to protect the plants at night and keep as much heat in as possible.
- Use mulching to help the soil retain as much heat as possible.
Frost-tolerant vegetables are less likely to be held back by frost, so you can expect them to thrive despite very low temperatures. Some cool weather plants don’t do as good as the frost-tolerant ones as soon as the temperature drops. But with proper care and protection from the frost, these vegetable types can tolerate low temperatures and reach their harvest stage.
Planning for an All-Year Vegetable Garden
It is possible to enjoy fresh produce from your vegetable garden all year round. To ensure the success of your gardening project, create a planting schedule using your growing zone and ideal planting season for your crops. Here are some winter and tropical vegetables that can survive the cool season.
Ideal Planting Season
2wks before the last frost
1 to 9
Spring; mid to late summer
3 to 10
3 to 10
Indoors, 8-10wks before last average frost
7 to 9
Spring: 5-8wks before the last frost
Late summer: 6-8wks before the first frost
4 to 9
Spring and fall
Fall: 6 to 11
Spring and fall
Yellow: 80-85 days
Oriental: 90-95 days
Brown: 90-95 days
2 to 9
2 to 10
Early spring and fall
3 to 11
Early spring or late summer
2 to 11
Late winter or early spring
These vegetables are ideal for container and portable plant bed gardening. It is highly recommended that you use containers and portable plant beds so you can move the plants whenever necessary. Also, these plants have very high chances of reaching maturity when planted in the right season and with the right soil conditions.
It’s All in the Numbers
Growing zones and the ideal planting seasons are key to selecting the right plants for your vegetable garden. These factors determine how well your garden can thrive and how much time you have for each of your vegetables to grow, making it possible for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor and make healthy and delicious 5-star meals at home all year round.