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Here at Peaceful Valley, we are in the throes of bare-root sales. However, the terms and restrictions for what can and cannot be planted can be confusing, especially for the first time grower.
The first thing to consider is your growing zone. This is a general description of how warm or cold your temperatures get year round. Where people tend to get confused, even experienced growers, is that in the US, there are two different forms of zone charting: The USDA and Sunset Magazine, possibly more. For simplicity, Peaceful Valley employs the USDA chart exclusively.
How, then, can you find, with any certainty, what USDA zone are you in? You can find zone maps in many locations, but even those cannot be as specific as you need. Fortunately, the good folks at the National Gardening Association have put together a searchable zone chart! Simply go here, and enter your zip code. You will get not only your USDA zone, but links to articles pertaining to growing conditions in YOUR area!
Another question many people have is “How many chill hours do I have? What is a chill hour, anyway?” According to Dave Wilson (the company that has supplied the majority of our bare-root trees for nearly a decade, and services many other nurseries around the nation) a chill hour is defined as one hour under 45 degrees Fahrenheit. However, its not always that simple. For every hour over 60 degrees, you have to subtract one hour. There are other, more specific rules (search for Utah Model Chill), but this is a good general guide.
Now, most people don’t sit out with a clipboard and a thermometer every day, calculating chill data. So, to get your approximate number of chill hours, you would go to your local Ag department—they usually have that data. If you are lucky enough to live in California, our wonderful UC system actually has monitoring up and down the state, with not only recent data, but in some cases, going back 5 years—you get a great picture of trends. The website, broken down by county, can be found here.
As always, we are here to help. Our catalog features many different icons to give you an idea of what grows well in warm climates (ideal for areas like Los Angeles), and what grows well in frigid areas, like Nebraska. But remember, we cannot hold shipments until it gets warm enough for you to plant. There is a method called “heeling in”, which allows you to care for your bare root plants until you are able to plant them in their permanent home. The literature we send out with our plants includes that information, but it can be viewed by downloading the .pdf file on the description page of all our bare-root stock.
Good luck, and Happy Planting!
Jan 27th, 2010 at 9:43 pm
Thank you very much for mentioning the different chill calculators that UC provides. My only comment is that in many cases we go back up to 14 years with the data. (I know I wrote the program.)
Also you can get other weather information for your location by going here: http://ceyolo.ucdavis.edu/sbdisplay/weather.cfm?county=2557 (that starts in Yolo but all counties are listed). Click the station name for aggregate data then click on a month for more detailed information.