There are many different ways that people can look at gardening. For some gardening is a decorative piece added to a house, beautiful plants growing along the fence and maybe a few plant pots on the window sill. To others, gardening is a fun summer project that they smile about when telling others about their small five by ten plot in their yard. For those that are working at becoming more self sufficient, gardening is a part time job that is not only an art, but a science all of its own.
For us, gardening is definitely a mix of the first and second ideas, but very much so the latter. As we work to be a self sufficient household, what we grow is becoming more and more important to us, as well as how much we grow. The first thing that we really had to put some thought and time into is what hardiness zone we’re in. The majority of folks here in the states follow the USDA’s plant hardiness zone map, which is made up of eleven different zones, nine of which are split into portions ‘a’ and ‘b,’ giving a total of 20 different growing zones.
Maine is covered with zones 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, and 6. Looking at the map below, it’s interesting to see that you can almost note the topography from the state just by the zones themselves. For us here in Norridgewock, we’re in zone 4b.
Not only is it important to keep what zone you are live in at the forefront when picking out perennial plants for your garden patches, but the timing of the first frost and last frost can also be estimated based on the zone that you grow in.
Frost dates in Maine are roughly along these lines:
Zone 3: Last frost – 1 May to 31 May; First frost – 1 September to 30 September
Zone 4: Last frost – 1 May to 30 May; First frost – 1 September to 30 September
Zone 5: Last frost – 30 March to 30 April; First frost – 30 September to 30 October
Zone 6: Last frost – 30 March to 30 April; First frost – 30 September to 30 October
Additional frost dates can be found at the Avant-Gardening.