What Is A Zone 9 Plant?
A zone 9 plant is one that grows best in zones 8 through 10. These are the areas where most of us live. If you live outside these zones, then your garden will not thrive as well as it would if grown in those same zones. (See our gardening guide) Most gardeners don’t think too much about what their plants need to grow well in other places, but they do! For example, some plants like tomatoes, potatoes and peppers can only grow well in hot climates. Others like lettuce or spinach cannot survive long periods of cold. So when choosing a garden location, consider which types of plants you want to grow and how they’ll perform in different climate conditions.
Zone 9 is a new designation created by the USDA for growing zones 8 through 10. There are no longer any hard and fast rules about what constitutes a “zone” anymore. The USDA just uses the term to designate that certain areas have similar growing conditions. For instance, in the Northeast, there’s a lot of snowfall during winter months so many gardens are planted near ponds or lakes.
In California, there’s lots of heat year round and many gardens are planted in sunny locations with little concern for frost protection. In Oregon, there’s more rainfall during winter months and hot summers. This has resulted in a new designation called the “new frost zone”, which stretches from zone 8a to zone 10b.
Another thing to consider when planting your garden is to research your climate conditions and then choose plants that will thrive in those same conditions. For instance, you wouldn’t plant an area with full sun all day long if it tends to snow in your area for several months out of the year. Your plants won’t get enough sun or be able to endure the cold temperatures. On the flip side, if you live in a desert area that doesn’t get too much rain, then it doesn’t make sense to plant a garden full of plants that need a lot of water.
When deciding what zone you live in, there are two main criteria:
First, there’s your frost line. This is the depth at which the ground doesn’t freeze during winter months. If you’re unsure of your frost line, just ask a neighbor or try digging a hole several feet deep. Next, plant a bulb like a onion, garlic or even a daffodil.
If the ground doesn’t freeze at least to the depth of the bulb, then you live in a zone where it rarely freezes.
Second, there’s the heat-duration test. Dig a hole and place a thermometer with a timer in it. Measure the depth of the hole and fill it with water. Make sure the thermometer is completely under the water.
Place a piece of plywood or a cardboard box over the hole and weigh it down so there are no gaps. After 24 hours, check the temperature of the water and the air temperature. If the water is under 40 degrees and it’s been 24 hours since you started, you live in a zone where it gets cold but doesn’t stay that way for long. If the water is between 40 and 50 degrees after 24 hours, you live in a zone where there are cold winters but the cold doesn’t last long at your location. If the water temperature is over 50 degrees after 24 hours, you live in a zone where freezing temperatures are common and could last for several months.
Planting a variety of crops is known as polyculture. Rather than having all tomatoes or all corn, try to plant a mixture of different plants that thrive in similar conditions. For instance, plant some leafy greens and root crops together so that something is always growing. In addition, planting a mixture helps to cut down on pest problems as there will always be something available for them to eat.
Also, try to stagger the times at which you plant your crops. If your frost-free date is May 15th and you plant a seed on that date, it will probably grow fine. If you plant that seed five days either way on the calendar, it might not be large enough to survive when the frost-free date arrives. By staggering your plantings by a few days, you give your plants time to mature before the first frost.
Finally, make sure you have proper drainage in your garden. If water stands around for very long, it will cause your plants to develop root rot. If you’re gardening in an area where it frequently rains, consider planting your garden in a raised bed. Raised beds can be any height but they must have smooth sides.
This allows any water to drain through the bottom and keeps your plants from rotting.
5.6 Storing Your Garden Success
When you’ve had enough fun growing your own food and taking pride in providing nutrition for your family with your own hands, it’s time to put the excess into storage.
You have several choices for storing your harvest: can it, pickle it, dehydrate it or root cellar it.
Canning is a simple process of cooking the food and then sealing it in sterilized metal cans. While these are great for storage, they require a large amount of water, must be cooked before eating and loosing a lot of the foods nutrients. Still, if you’ve got the water and some empty cans, might as well fill them.
Pickling is a great way to store your plants in a brine solution. This extends the life of your food substantially and requires little to no water since the salt in the brine solution draws out the liquids that would otherwise be lost. Make sure you use sterilized jars or your family will pay the price.
Dehydrating removes most of the water from your plants so they can be stored for a long time. The process is simple: slice, dice or peel the food, then lay it out in the sun. Place a screen under the fruit to prevent insects from falling into the pile as it dries. As it dehydrates, it will keep getting darker until it reaches a deep brown color.
This can be stored for years but will need to be rehydrated before eating.
Finally, you can store foods in your root cellar. The root cellar is simply a place, usually underground, where the temperature is kept reasonably cool all year round. Traditionally the cellar was under a farmhouse porch but any place that meets the criteria will work. If you’re building a new house or have an old cellar beneath your house, you can use that.
If not, you’ll need to dig a hole and line it with bricks or concrete to prevent the wall’s shape from collapsing.
If you’re using an old foundation, check the floor for any cracks that could let in pests. If you find any, fill them in with mortar or concrete.
Once you’ve chosen your storage place, you’ll need to pack it with foods for winter. Any vegetables and fruits can be stored here. Be sure not to pack it too tightly or the foods will rot instead of freeze and too loosely and the cold air won’t be able to permeate the storage area.
If you have a farmhouse with a root cellar, all you need to do is stock it in the fall and open it up in the winter. Remember that the temperature should be kept as close to 32 degrees Fahrenheit as possible.
Sources & references used in this article:
Herbaceous perennial plants: A treatise on their identification, culture, and garden attributes by AM Armitage – 2008 – books.google.com
First Report of Cucumber Mosaic Virus in Eryngium amethystinum, Canna spp., and Aquilegia hybrids in Ohio by JR Fisher, MC Sanchez-Cuevas, ST Nameth… – Plant …, 1997 – Am Phytopath Society
From forest to field: perennial fruit crop domestication by AJ Miller, BL Gross – American journal of botany, 2011 – Wiley Online Library