Learn your climate
Learn your climate
This website focuses on the niche area of planting in a cool climate. This is a challenging climate zone which can experiences summer days up to 40 degrees and winter nights below zero. Gardeners need to contend with frosts and snow for half the year, and heat and storms for the other half.
A cool climate is typically defined as a zone which has less than 120 days above 15 degrees per year. However, with climate change the extreme fluctuations of temperatures and the number of days per year are becoming more unpredictable. A cool climate can experience frosts for 6 months of the year, and generally considers the end of the summer harvest to be ANZAC Day and the beginning of the summer planting to be Melbourne Cup Day.
Keeping it simple, in Australia, all alpine areas including the Tambourine Mountain ranges, Blue Mountains, and New South Wales and Victorian areas geographically south of Canberra (excluding the coast line) can benefit from following a cool climate plating guide. In New Zealand, areas geographically south of Rotorua would fall within a cool climate zone. Looking at the maps below, the advice on this website is applicable to the 'blue' zone in the BOM map and especially helpful for the 'blue and red' zone on the second map.
When it comes to planting in a cool climate, you cannot trust what you read. Most information is geared towards moderate or temperate climates. Firstly, packet of seeds may say a plant can be planted “all year” or between certain months, but that does not mean that it will be suitable to plant that crop at that time in your climate. Secondly, books and guides which advise on what to plant when are focused on soil temperatures and the optimal germination temperature for particular plant varieties. This is a better indicator of when it is an appropriate time to plant, however, it fails to take into consideration minimum temperatures which are reached at night and frosts. Just because a seed will germinate at that soil temperature does not mean it will survive once it germinates. In the end, specialised knowledge generated from years of trial, error and success is the best indicator of what will work in a particular zone.
The advice on this website is applicable to the 'blue' zone in this map.
The advice on this website is especially helpful for the 'blue and red' zone on this map.
This advice on this website is applicable to the green and yellow areas on this map. It is also applicable in seasons other than winter to the blue area. The winters in the blue zone are colder than I have gardened in, and so I do not presume to know what works well there.