Zone-by-Zone Gardening Guide

Use our regional gardening guide to choose the best varieties and most prolific plants for every garden zone in the U.S.

| March/April 2017

  • United States Map
    Knowing what crops grow best in your climate is a sure-fire way to plan a successful vegetable garden.
    Photo by iStock
  • Maine
    In the chillest climates, focus on cool-weather crops such as peas, potatoes, onions and carrots.
    Photo by iStock
  • Red Express Cabbage
    ‘Red Express’ cabbage, johnnyseeds.com
    Photo by Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Ailsa Craig Onion
    ‘Ailsa Craig’ onion, rareseeds.com
    Photo by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Purple Haze Carrots
    ‘Purple Haze’ carrots, johnnyseeds.com
    Photo by Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Organic Plants
    Seeds from organic plants are better attuned to the needs of their environment.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • Cream of the Crop Squash
    ‘Cream of the Crop’ squash, rareseeds.com
    Photo by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Adirondack Blue Potatoes
    ‘Adirondack Blue’ potatoes, johnnyseeds.com
    Photo by Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Black Krim Tomato
    ‘Black Krim’ tomato, johnnyseeds.com
    Photo by Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Landscaping
    A well-planned garden provides gorgeous landscaping and a bountiful harvest.
    Photo by David Papazian
  • Pink Eye Purple Hull Peas
    ‘Pink Eye Purple Hull’ peas, rareseeds.com
    Photo by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Lipstick Pepper
    ‘Lipstick’ pepper, rareseeds.com
    Photo by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Beauregard Sweet Potato
    ‘Beauregard’ sweet potato, johnnyseeds.com
    Photo by Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Tropical Growing Zones
    Tropical growing zones allow vegetables to be grown during the winter months.
    Photo by Barbara Pleasant
  • Sugar Baby Watermelon
    ‘Sugar Baby’ watermelon, rareseeds.com
    Photo by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Nadia Eggplant
    ‘Nadia’ eggplant, johnnyseeds.com
    Photo by Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Sun Gold Tomatoes
    ‘Sun Gold’ tomato, johnnyseeds.com
    Photo by Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Vegetable Varieties
    Some vegetable varieties grow well in several kinds of climates.
    Photo by Steve Foss
  • Early Wonder Beets
    ‘Early Wonder’ beets, rareseeds.com
    Photo by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Buttercrunch Lettuce
    ‘Buttercrunch’ lettuce, rareseeds.com
    Photo by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Bright Lights Swiss Chard
    ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard, johnnyseeds.com
    Photo by Johnny's Selected Seeds

  • United States Map
  • Maine
  • Red Express Cabbage
  • Ailsa Craig Onion
  • Purple Haze Carrots
  • Organic Plants
  • Cream of the Crop Squash
  • Adirondack Blue Potatoes
  • Black Krim Tomato
  • Landscaping
  • Pink Eye Purple Hull Peas
  • Lipstick Pepper
  • Beauregard Sweet Potato
  • Tropical Growing Zones
  • Sugar Baby Watermelon
  • Nadia Eggplant
  • Sun Gold Tomatoes
  • Vegetable Varieties
  • Early Wonder Beets
  • Buttercrunch Lettuce
  • Bright Lights Swiss Chard

One of the surest ways to grow a successful vegetable garden is to emphasize crops and varieties that are proven performers in your climate. Using well-adapted varieties gives your garden a strong backbone, which frees you up to try some fun crops on the side — a guaranteed formula for a satisfying season. It also gives you a leg up when it comes to your garden’s health and productivity, meaning you’ll be able to harvest more food with less work.

Begin by finding your gardening zone. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map divides North America into zones based on minimum winter temperatures, which we will use as a starting point. Long-lived trees, shrubs and perennials are given a range of zones in which they grow best, and because a zone number also reflects the length of the growing season and intensity of summer heat, knowing your zone helps vegetable gardeners, too. 

 In addition to using the map here, the Zone Map website includes a pull-down menu where you can see your state’s Zone Map. Once you know your zone, commit it to memory, and read on to learn about the most unstoppable crops for where you live. The growing seasons listed here are averages typical of the various zones. You can find the specific length of your growing season, plus your specific first and last frost date here.

Zones 3 and 4 

GROWING SEASON: Less than 140 frost-free days
AVERAGE MINIMUM WINTER TEMPERATURES: -20 to -40 degrees
SUREFIRE FRUITS: Juneberries, raspberries



The upper Midwest, northern mountains and New England have short, cool summers and long, cold winters, which make them the ideal climates for peas, potatoes and other cool-season crops. An asparagus patch is valuable because the plants are ready to start growing as soon as the ground thaws, but some varieties emerge so early they can be damaged by cold. The Canada-bred ‘Guelph Millennium’ variety emerges a week later than other all-male asparagus varieties, making it a top choice.

Peas of all types are prime picks, but make sure to grow an elegant ‘Green Arrow’-type shell pea because they are so beautiful and delicious. Use snow peas with colorful yellow or purple pods as edible ornamentals, and fill your freezer with long-vined ‘Sugar Snaps’.



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