Gardeners, have you checked your zone today?
The United States Department of Agriculture launched the first update since 1990 to its Plant Hardiness Zone Map yesterday, and half of the nation's 80 million gardeners have been declared a half-zone warmer. Thanks to ever-more sophisticated computers scientists are able to give a more accurate picture of growing conditions across the country. The new map is built using digital Geographic Information System technology and provides much sharper boundaries and better resolution. I checked it out and could see right where the zone changes from 9A to 9B near me. There are two new zones, 12 and 13, where the minimum temperatures don't drop below 50 and 60 degrees F, respectively, and Puerto Rico is on the map for the first time. Here's a link to the new map, which you can search by Zip Code: