Fall!!! The best season EVER. Did you know that trees shed their leaves in fall because it helps them survive the winter? If they kept their leaves, all of the moisture that the trees absorb in their roots would evaporate through the leaf pores.
This is a good time to talk about zoning. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) divides the States into different zones based on the average minimum winter temperature. The idea is that you can look up the zone you live in, and plant in the spring and in the fall based on that knowledge. Here’s the map:
For example. Maryland is in Zone 7, along with Virginia, parts of California, Oregon, and some midwestern states– see the light green color above. So, farmers in Maryland will look at the average fall frost dates in Zone 7– they tend to be around October 30– and make sure that anything they’ve planted in the ground is harvested or under cover before then. In the spring, they use the last spring frost date to decide when their plants can safely go in the ground without danger of freezing.
With recent climate change, frost dates are less reliable. For example, this past spring of 2012, a crazy frost hit the East Coast and Midwest after the spring frost dates. As a result, lots of apple trees were severely stunted, and farmers suffered damages to initial spring plantings.
I wish you all many apple pies with vanilla ice cream and steaming mugs of your favorite fall drink!
Thanks to Molly Moses for her beautiful artwork and last-minute creativity!