Monday, April 23, 2012

Understanding Maine’s USDA Zones

If you’re going to garden in Maine, then you should have a firm understanding of which zone we’re in and what types of fruits and veggies grow best in our neck of the woods. Knowing your zone also comes in handy when it comes time for planting.

Maine falls in USDA zones 3a - 6a. Many of us, particularly in central Maine, live in Zone 4 - 5. USDA zones are used to classify which types of fruits and vegetables, trees and shrubs etc. grow best in specific areas of the country. Zones are based on the average annual minimum temperatures.

Maine USDA Zones by County

If you’re not sure which Maine zone you live in, check out this map of USDA Zones in Maine. The map also lists the average minimum temperatures for each zone which covers Zones 3a to 6a. 

Planting in USDA Zones 3a to 6a

When it comes to planting shrubs and trees, you’ll need to plant varieties that thrive in the zone you live in. If not, your shrubs and trees most likely won’t come back year after year. When it comes to planting vegetables, you’re best bet is to follow the planting schedule for your zone.

When gardening in Maine, always sow your seeds and plant seedlings outdoors after the last frost. In Maine, our average last frost date is May 2nd and our average first frost date is October 6th which makes our growing season about 156 days long.

Tips for Vegetable Gardening in Maine

1. Start seeds indoors 2 weeks before the last expected frost. Certain vegetables transplant well while others should be seeded directly into the ground. Here’s a chart of vegetables to be seeded/transplanted

2. Plant early varieties of vegetables. Check out this handy list of early vegetable varieties to grow in the north

3. Some seeds, such as pumpkinsand watermelons, can be started indoors 4 - 6 weeks before the last projected frost date

4. Use floating row covers or black plastic mulch to keep soil temperatures warm

What tips do you have for growing an organic vegetable garden in Maine's short growing season? Are there any varieties of vegetables you think grow better than others in our climate?


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