For those of you trying gardening for the first time, it is important to know what zone you live in. Growing up in the western state of Montana, it was known that the winters were long and the growing season was short. Gardening, was at best, a summer past time that kept rural kids busy when school was out! When I moved to Wisconsin it was mentioned to me that you planted potatoes on Good Friday. Well, in Montana, snow can be 6 inches deep on that day, so how on earth do you plant a potato? Key word in the gardening world: ZONE! Southern Wisconsin and Central Montana are two different zones!
In the northern regions, the winters are cold which means gardening goes into hibernation till the first sign of spring. The southwest, south, and southeast regions do a little more hibernating when the summer heat becomes too intense in these areas. Gardening is year round in these regions even though wintertime lows can be pretty cold and frost warnings are possible. Having a complete understanding of your zone will help you in determining what to plant and when to plant. Locate your zone on a plant zoning map( USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard) and research your average last frost date and your average first frost date. This way you will know when to start your seeds indoors and when to cover your plants outdoors.
Other factors to consider that affect individual growth of plants are soil, moisture, humidity and wind. In the Eco Garden system gardening can start earlier and end later due to the fact that consistent moisture and temperature can be sustained and the ability to cover when needed is convenient. The food grade plastic insulates the soil to maintain consistencies in soil temperature and the reservoir below keeps water at a use when needed basis. This type of garden works well in all zones due to easy maintenance and its ability to with stand what Mother Nature throws at it. With a built in overflow valve, too much water is drained out, and if more water is needed than it can be added. You add the soil of your choice which eliminates the guess factor of soil testing. Sometimes ground soil can require testing to determine what is missing and what is in excess. The Eco garden system can be set up in any area that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sun. Once it is filled with water and soil, it’s weight keeps the unit level, even in high winds.
Gone are those days of old! Winter temperatures are not as cold as they used be and spring plantings can be earlier and earlier. There are 13 planting zones in North America with zone 12 and 13 added just recently in 2012. The last two zones that were added indicate a warming trend during wintertime. Zones have shifted northward changing certain areas to a higher zone. The higher the zone number, the warmer your average low temperature is during the winter months. Southern Wisconsin was in zone 4b in the previous map but is now zone 5a.
When looking at the map it still remains the same, the western and Midwestern winters offer an icy chill! Here in zone 5a, regardless of snow, rain, or shine, every Good Friday the potatoes are planted!