Garden Chat: Garden Zones, Seedlings, and Frost

Garden Zones, Seedlings, and Frost

Herbs and kids

Garden Manager, Missy, and our group of volunteers are itching to get back into the Giving Garden but in the meantime, they are busy prepping seeds and getting ready to plant cool-weather vegetables in February.

When can you start seeds? Generally, seeds need to be started four to six weeks before the date of the last frost. But before planting and prepping seeds, it is important to know hardiness zone and frost date. The 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. Living in Nashville metro area, we have a relatively cool spring and fall and hot, (albeit humid) long summer. Though some may not be thrilled about another southern summer, it’s ideal for virtually all vegetables, if you know when to plant them.

Hardiness zones were developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine the plants that grow best in your climate. It divides North America into eleven zones by minimum average annual temperatures. Each zone is then divided into “a” and “b” segments. For Nashville, we are in “Zone 7a” which means our average annual extreme minimum temperature is somewhere between 0° and 5° Fahrenheit. Translation - We don’t get too cold. This is important when you are choosing perennials that need to withstand winter temperatures to survive.

A frost date is the average date of the last frost in Spring or the first frost in fall or winter. “Frost” occurs when the air temperature reaches 32°. Beware, many frosts can occur JUST above freezing. To be safe, at the Giving Garden, though our last frost date is around April 15th, experience has led to waiting until early May to get tender plants in the ground.

Be sure to check back in February for some tips on how to get your seeds started and find out what we are direct sowing!

We are so grateful for support from our Farm Partners