Geography Made Simple

We all know that different parts of the country experience different types of weather throughout the course of a calendar year. Because of this variation, there’s not one ‘golden rule’ of gardening for when it’s ideal to plant seeds and seedlings or … by when to harvest fruits and vegetables to avoid frost damage. The most effective approach is to know the average weather pattern in your town or city [typical dates of the last and first frosts].

Here’s a guideline …

Plant seeds and seedlings (small plants) after the last frost and when overnight temperatures are consistently above freezing, preferably high 30’s, low 40’s.

The average date of the last frost will help determine the final harvest of your vegetables, as once a plant is affected by frost, it will no longer grow or produce ‘fruit.’

Most vegetables grown by the home gardener are harvested by September, regardless of where you live. However, vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts can be harvested right up to the last frost.

Your Region

In addition to knowing the average weather pattern in your locale, knowing which geographic region your continental state falls into is another general guideline to follow when deciding which fruits and vegetables to plant or harvest … and when.

Northeast (NE) – Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey

Southeast (SE) – Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas

East Central (EC) – West Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma

Upper Central (UC) – Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon

Southwest (SW) – California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona

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