Have you ever seen on your favourite gardening websites the term "planting zone" or "growing zone" or and found yourself nodding but not completely understanding? Maybe you were like me and thought "Isn't my garden the growing zone?" ? It's ok, this is just another definition to learn, that will help you succeed in your beginner homesteading / gardening / plant parenting journey.
A growing zone, also known as a hardiness zone, refers to a particular area's climate and growing conditions. It is used by farmers to determine what plants can be grown in their area. In this post I would like to break down the zone scale, highlighting which cities fit into each level, and provide an example of a plant that can grow in that zone.
0 (lowest temperature reaching -53.9 to -51.1 Degrees Celsius) - Iqaluit, Nunavut - Labrador Tea
1 (−51.1 to -45.6) - Whitehorse, Yukon - Alberta Wild Rose
2 (−45.6 to -40) - Erickson, Manitoba - Raspberries
3 - (-40 to -34.4) - Banff, Alberta - Iris
4 - (-34.4 to -28.9) - Bathurst, New Brunswick - High Bush Cranberries
5 - (-28.9 to -23.3) - Bonavista, Newfoundland - Bee Balm
6 - (-23.3 to -17.8) - Cape Breton, Nova Scotia - Eggplant
7 - (-17.8 to -12.2) - Cottam, Ontario - Hosta
8 - (-12.2 to -6.7) - Abbotsford, British Colombia - Cantaloupe
9 - (-6.7 to -1.1) - Sliammon, British Columbia - Railroad Vine
Each zone can be further broken down into "a" and "b", with A subzones being the region having the coldest temperature, and B subzone regions having the warmest temperature in the main zone's scale.
When planting outside, it is important to know which zone you live in, otherwise you'll be spending a whole lot of time and money on building a garden, only to lose it by planting too early or too late. This is not to say, however, that the scale is rigid - nature is unpredictable and may yield good growing conditions for plants that otherwise aren't "hardy" to your area. You can find additional information here.
You can also learn more about Hardiness zones and other agricultural information on the Government of Canada's website here. You can look up your own municipality, view nationwide maps and see previous years' calculations of hardiness.