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Plant Hardiness Map 2012

To be honest, I have never grown a totally successful garden.  I’ve really only tried gardening a few times, so I blame my failed attempts on my lack of experience.

The idea of successful gardening still excites me, though.  My memories of other people’s successful gardens totally delight me, and when the seed catalogs come (in the middle of winter!), I begin to plan for spring.

I have some lofty gardening goals:

  • Become a “Resilient Gardener.”
  • Learn to save seeds (without accidentally making hybrids).
  • Grow a totally organic garden.
  • Have a compost system that doesn’t fail. (Maybe with worms?)
  • Keep bees.
  • Use the produce that results from my garden, instead of letting it rot.

These are all pretty big goals—each of them could take years to master!  But, I like to keep them in mind as I decide what to grow, and how to [try to] grow it.

Each year I make a few mistakes, and learn from them.  Last year, I got really excited about heirloom seeds.  (That wasn’t a mistake!) I got a lot of fun stuff, for sure. One of my most exciting things to try growing was a special melon (“Rich Sweetness 132”) from Kazakhstan or somewhere—they are little melons that are striped bright red and yellow. They were supposed to be sweet, and they were, and they were supposed to be really productive, and that was basically true too.  So those were fun.

I also got a bunch of stuff that didn’t grow, or didn’t produce anything.  Unfortunately, when I was ordering seeds, I didn’t pay close attention to where (or how) these plants were supposed to be grown.  The pictures were just much more interesting, and anyway, growing information wasn’t really highlighted.  So, of course, the tropical varieties didn’t grow, because Utah doesn’t have a tropical climate.  (Surprise, surprise!)

This year, I’m going to try to grow things that are well suited to the climate where I am.  I think that will increase my odds of being able to harvest something.

It’s a good year to start paying attention to this sort of thing, because it turns out 2012 is the first year in 22 years that the United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Map has been updated!  Until now we’ve had a 1990 version, and for 2012, they’ve developed this new map to reflect climate changes that have occurred.

Years of research went into creating the updated map.  It still shows average annual minimum temperatures, and has zones divided into 10-degree F sections.  The main difference is that a lot of areas have become warmer.  So, we may be able to grow new things!  (But tropical fruits will probably still fail to grow in Utah.)

It’s worth taking a look at, as you’re planning your garden.

So, Readers, if your climate has changed a little, is there anything new you’re going to try to grow?

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