Differences between 1990 USDA hardiness zones and 2006 arborday.org hardiness zones reflect warmer climate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
California USDA Hardiness Zone Map “California USDA Hardiness Zone Map”. Plantmaps . . Retrieved 2010-12-05 . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I recently found this article in the Huffington Post and found it to be quite interesting. The temperatures have been changing, so gradual that it hardly makes a difference in the day to day living, but …… to revised the official guide for the 80 million gardeners in the country. Now that is quite a change.
WASHINGTON – Global warming is hitting not just home, but garden. The colour-coded map of planting zones often seen on the back of seed packets is being updated by the U.S. government, illustrating a hotter 21st century.
It’s the first time since 1990 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has revised the official guide for the 80 million gardeners in the country, and much has changed. Nearly entire states, such as Ohio, Nebraska and Texas, are in warmer zones.
The new guide, unveiled Wednesday at the National Arboretum, arrives just as many home gardeners are receiving their seed catalogues and dreaming of lush flower beds in the spring.
It reflects a new reality: The coldest day of the year isn’t as cold as it used to be, so some plants and trees can now survive farther north.
“People who grow plants are well aware of the fact that temperatures have gotten more mild throughout the year, particularly in the wintertime,” said Boston University biology professor Richard Primack. “There’s a lot of things you can grow now that you couldn’t grow before.”
He stand the giant fig tree in his suburban Boston yard stands as an example: “People don’t think of figs as a crop you can grow in the Boston area. You can do it now.”
The new guide also uses better weather data and offers more interactive technology. For example, gardeners using the online version can enter their zip code and get the exact average coldest temperature.
Also, for the first time, calculations include more detailed factors such as prevailing winds, the presence of nearby bodies of water, the slope of the land, and the way cities are hotter than suburbs and rural areas.
The map carves up the U.S. into 26 zones based on three-degree temperature increments. The old 1990 map mentions 34 U.S. cities in its key. On the 2012 map, 18 of those, including Honolulu, St. Louis, Des Moines, Iowa, St. Paul, Minn., and even Fairbanks, Alaska, are in newer, warmer zones.
Those differences matter in deciding what to plant.
For example, Des Moines used to be in zone 5a, meaning the lowest temperature on average was between -26 C and -30 C. Now it’s 5b, which has a coldest temperature of -23 C to -26 C. Jerry Holub, manager of a Des Moines plant nursery, said folks there might now be able to safely grow passion flowers.
“It is great that the federal government is catching up with what the plants themselves have known for years now: The globe is warming and it is greatly influencing plants (and animals),” Stanford University biology professor Terry Root wrote in an email.
The changes come too late to make this year’s seed packets, but they will be in next year’s, said George Ball, chairman and CEO of the seed company W. Atlee Burpee, which puts the maps on packages of perennials, not annuals. But Bell said many of his customers already know what can grow in their own climate and how it has warmed.
“Climate change, which has been in the air for a long time, is not big news to gardeners,” he said.
Mark Kaplan, a New York meteorologist who helped create the 1990 map, said the latest version clearly shows warmer zones migrating north. Other experts agreed.
The 1990 map was based on temperatures from 1974 to 1986, the new map from 1976 to 2005.
USDA spokeswoman Kim Kaplan, who was part of the map team, repeatedly tried to distance the new zones on the map from global warming. She said that while much of the country is in warmer zones, the map “is simply not a good instrument” to demonstrate climate change because it is based on just the coldest days of the year.
David W. Wolfe, a professor of plant and soil ecology at Cornell University, said that the USDA is being too cautious and that the map plainly reflects warming.
The revised map “gives us a clear picture of the ‘new normal’ and will be an essential tool for gardeners, farmers and natural resource managers as they begin to cope with rapid climate change,” Wolfe said in an email.
The Arbor Day Foundation issued its own hardiness guide six years ago, and the new government map is very similar, said Woodrow Nelson, a vice-president at the plant-loving organization.
“We got a lot of comments that the 1990 map wasn’t accurate anymore,” Nelson said. “I look forward to (the new map). It’s been a long time coming.”
Nelson lives in Lincoln, Neb., where the zone warmed to a 5b. Nelson said he used to be in a “solid 4,” but now he has Japanese maples and Fraser firs in his yard — trees that shouldn’t survive in a zone 4.
Vaughn Speer, an 87-year-old master gardener in Ames, Iowa, said he has seen redbud trees, one of the earliest blooming trees, a little farther north in recent years.
“They always said redbuds don’t go beyond U.S. Highway 30,” he said, “but I’m seeing them near Roland,” about 15 kilometres to the north.
AP Writer Michael J. Crumb contributed to this report from Des Moines.
Plant map: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/
The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.
For the first time, the map is available as an interactive GIS-based map, for which a broadband Internet connection is recommended, and as static images for those with slower Internet access. Users may also simply type in a ZIP Code and find the hardiness zone for that area.
No posters of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map have been printed. But state, regional, and national images of the map can be downloaded and printed in a variety of sizes and resolutions.
This is the best I could get to post on my blog, if your really interested check it out on the web. I reccommend that you search for the NEW USDA Hardiness Zone Map, this one appears to be the old one still. If you find any news on this topic please comment in this post. Thank you
This morning I decided to read the latest news on dangers in the garden. I found an article in the Huffinton Post that caught my attention. I know I have done this, pretty sure everyone has at one time or another when gardening in the extreem heat of summer. Pick up the garden hose and take a drink, refreshing at the time, but beware of of the dangers. Please read on and hopefully you will decide to bring that bottle of water out to the garden next time, don’t forget the ice. Gardening is a healthy choice, let’s keep it as healthy as possible and avoid the dangers that are easy to change.Toxic Garden Hose Water: Drinking From Common Water Hoses Potentially Dangerous, Study Finds
When it’s scorching hot out this summer, you may want to think twice before drinking from the garden hose.
A new study released by the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, M.I., on HealthyStuff.org found that the water from common garden hoses is chock full of toxic materials that could harm the human body.
Lead is found in the brass fixtures at the mouth of gardening hoses and, out of the of 90 garden hoses screened, 33 percent of products contained levels of lead that exceeded those considered safe for children.
Garden hoses are not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which monitors the nation’s public drinking supply. The study’s findings showed that levels of lead in water coming from garden hoses they tested exceeded legal safe levels 100 percent of the time.
But lead wasn’t the only dangerous material found in the water. According to the study, the water also contained plastic additives including phthalates —or plasticizers — and bisphenol A (BPA) that were “found to migrate out of the hose material into water contained in the hose.”
The Food and Drug Administration defines BPA as an industrial chemical used to make hard, clear plastic. According to the FDA website, the National Institutes of Health is concerned with the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.
The study found levels of BPA at 20 times higher than those of safe drinking water levels.
Though you’d likely have to drink a fair amount of affected garden hose water to see health consequences, the Ecology Center warns that even low levels of lead may create health problems.
Garden hoses containing lead typically will have warnings on their packaging and others will indicate if they are lead-free.
Now that we are well into the heat of summer I decided to write about some of the concerns that may be happening in gardens all over. Some problems are just not preventable, but I will explain what causes them and how to prevent them if possible. One of my questions was, what causes the cracks or splits on the tomatoes. It doesen’t affect the flavor just the appearance. I would not recommend leaving the split tomatoes on the plant for to much longer due to bugs or spoiling. Twist them gently and let them fall into your hand and enjoy their flavor.
The skin splits near stem of the tomato for several reasons, and sometimes it can’t be prevented completely, but gardeners can control some of the reasons. Make sure your tomato plants are watered on a regular basis. They shouldn’t be drenched to the point of soggy soil, then left to dry out. Excess water, and the soil going from soggy to very dry will cause cracking. Temperatures that very greatly can also cause cracking also. Burning hot temperatures during the day followed by a cool evening will sometimes cause splitting. One other thing that could cause splitting is a lack of foliage to protect ripening tomatoes. Some gardeners snip off the offshoot stems, but if too many are removed the plant might be too bare and there won’t be enough foliage to shield the tomatoes from the hot sun.
Give tomatoes space to breathe, scheduled watering and don’t over prune the plants. This will give them the chance they need for a good harvest. Cracked, scarred or split tomatoes can still be eaten if picked right away.
July’s Tomato Haul (Photo credit: statelyenglishmanor)
Pollinator (Photo credit: macropoulos)
5 techniques for backyard gardeners
Liatris is one of the many perennials that attracts butterflies. For more butterfly-attracting perennials, see the chart at the end of this article.
The Teak Butterfly Shelter will entice passing butterflies to stop and rest for awhile. For best results, place the shelter in a lightly shaded spot near nectar-rich plants, such as asters, echinacea, milkweed and alliums.
1. Plant nectar- and pollen-rich flowers
The most important step you can take is to plant a pollinator-friendly garden. Choose nectar and pollen-rich plants like wildflowers and old-fashioned varieties of flowers. A succession of blooming annuals, perennials and shrubs is best so nectar and pollen will be available throughout the growing season. Also, include plants like dill, fennel and milkweed that butterfly larvae feed on.
Any size garden can attract and support pollinators — from a wildflower meadow to a windowbox with a few well-chosen species. Researchers in Tuscon, AZ, have found that communities of bees can sustain themselves for long periods of time in small vacant city lots.
A patchwork of pollinator gardens in neighborhoods, cities and rural areas around the country could provide enough habitat to restore healthy communities of beneficial insects and pollinators.
2. Go organic
Many pesticides — even organic ones — are toxic to bees and other beneficial organisms. There’s no need to use powerful poisons to protect your garden from insects and diseases. In the short term they may provide a quick knock-down to the attackers, but they also kill beneficial organisms. In the long term, you expose yourself, family, pets and wildlife to toxic chemicals, and risk disrupting the natural ecosystem that you and your garden inhabit.
All things considered, an organic approach is both safer and more effective. By applying the simple principles of ecological plant protection, you can work with nature to control pests and diseases, enjoy a healthier garden and harvest and protect pollinators and other beneficial insects.
If you do apply pesticides make sure you apply them carefully and selectively. To protect pollinators, do not use pesticides on open blossoms or when bees or other pollinators are present.
The Blossom Hummingbird Feeder
becomes a living work of art when hummingbirds dart back and forth to feed.
The Butterfly Beacon holds a nectar-soaked sponge, which gives butterflies a good place to land. The 7″ glass bowl fits securely into the spiral top of the iron stake.
3. Provide shelter
Butterflies, bees and other pollinators need shelter to hide from predators, get out of the elements and rear their young. Let a hedgerow or part of your lawn grow wild for ground-nesting bees. Let a pile of grass cuttings or a log decompose in a sunny place on the ground. Or, allow a dead tree to stand to create nooks for butterflies and solitary bees.
Artificial nesting boxes can also help increase the population of pollinators in your area. Wooden blocks with the proper-sized holes drilled into them will attract mason bees. Bat boxes provide a place for bats to raise their young.
4. Provide food and water
A pollinator garden will provide pollen and nectar. Consider adding special feeders to help attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Bees, birds and butterflies also all need water. Install a water garden, a birdbath or a catch basin for rain. Butterflies are attracted to muddy puddles which they will flock to for salts and nutrients as well as water.
5. Backyard beekeeping
You don’t have to live in the country to keep bees. All you need is a little space, a water source, plenty of nearby flowers for them to visit, and a willingness to learn. Keeping a beehive or two in the backyard used to be a common practice. Maybe it’s time to bring back this old-fashioned hobby. It does require equipment and some specific knowledge. But it’s nothing an interested hobbyist can’t handle. For more information, read Attracting Beneficial Bees.