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USDA Plant Hardiness Zones

To help gardeners understand which plants will grow well for them, the entire USA has been segmented into ‘Plant Hardiness Zones’. Knowing your zone number is helpful when shopping for plants because:

  • Cold-area gardeners can avoid buying plants that simply won’t survive their lowest winter temperatures.
  • Warm-area gardeners can steer clear of plants that need a period of cold weather in order to bloom again.
Find your Plant Hardiness Zone here.

I'm Ready to Get my Hands in the Dirt!

Our first blog in our Guest Garden Writer Series comes from Connie Etter, an American Meadows customer from Indiana, gardening in Zone 6. Connie not only loves to garden but also is a professional photographer and we are thrilled to accompany her blog with her own gorgeous photos.

With spring here and my summer flower seeds separated by gardens, it’s time to put the flower catalogs down for a bit and get out to see what needs to be cleaned up. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to get my hands in the dirt! I can't think of anything better than listening to the birds chirping and toads croaking while preparing my gardens for a new year.

My spring clean up consists of cutting down the remaining seeding plants that were left for the birds, removing last year’s annuals and the remainder of leaves from last year’s plants. If the leaves are left too long they can hurt new plant growth with mold.

After clearing out the unwanted items, I top my gardens with Starbucks coffee grounds. Coffee grounds add organic matter and small amounts of nutrients to the soil. Plus, I love the smell. My last task is to add a fresh layer of mulch around my plants to protect them and retain moisture. Early spring is the easiest time to add mulch because most plants have not started to stick their heads up.

Now I must be patient for a few more weeks before getting my annuals in the ground and planting my seeds. My wise Grandmother always said "Don't plant your flowers until after Mother's Day". I think Grandma knew winter's icy talons may grab the tender sprouts. While there are certainly some advantages to being the early bird - getting the worm for instance, sometimes there are also substantial risks.

With my spring cleanup done its time to get my summer flower seeds in the ground and of course look to American Meadows for a few new plants and seeds for my beds and containers.

Seeing my spring gardens come to life is a rewarding time. It is also the time I start planning for fall bulb planting by paying attention to where my spring bulbs are blooming and where I have open spaces.

To see more of Connie's gardening and photography, please visit her website or facebook page. Stay tuned for more blogs in our Guest Garden Writer Series, coming from gardeners all across the country!

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