The stockings are taken down from the mantle, the tree is in the compost pile, and now it’s time to get ready for the most wonderful time of the year. Gathering the seed and plant catalogs from underneath the troves of clothing and home décor magazines, we can finally dream of warmer days and the planting of our spring and summer gardens. But not so fast – times are a changin,’ or rather, the USDA Hardiness Zones are a changin.’
Greenbrier County was previously categorized as Zone 5b and 6a hardiness, but we have since been recategorized with the release of the new USDA map as Zone 6a and 6b, but predominantly 6b. The higher the number, the warmer the zone.
Developed in 1960 at the National Arboretum in Washington D.C., the USDA sought to help out farmers and gardeners by standardizing the growing zones of crops, fruits, vegetables, trees, plants, and flowers.
The map doesn’t take into account the highest temperatures, only the lowest, so while it doesn’t show evidence that our county is warmer it does show that our county isn’t as cold as it used to be. While one needs to always bear in mind the individual microclimate at their own home garden, this change allows that some vegetables as tender perennials that were before hit or miss, just might make it!
For more information or questions about the USDA Hardiness Zone, or about becoming a Master Gardener, please contact Mary Dameron at the WVU Extension Service Greenbrier County Office at 304-647-7408.