Q: I’m confused about the planting zones in NJ. After doing some Googling on the subject and finding various colored maps, I still don’t get it. I live in Hunterdon County and I’ve heard that our state has many sub-zones. Which one are we? Does this mean I should avoid planting certain vegetables at certain times? Please help.
Most of NJ is in Hardiness Zone 6, with the exception of the northwest corner of the state which is Zone 5 (cooler). Also, a few spots on the shore and in Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland Counties are Zone 7 (warmer).
GardenTimeOnline.com features a map of the NJ hardiness zones and sub-zones in the event you need more specific information.
Your Hardiness Zone basically determines the final date of the spring thaw for your area. It also indicates that certain plants will thrive better there (at certain times of the year) than others. However, I wouldn’t worry much about this if you’re planting a vegetable garden in NJ. May 15th is the official “garden planting” day in our state, when you can safely assume that no more frost will occur until the autumn. On this day, put all of your hot-weather loving plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, etc. into the ground.
Can you start your NJ garden earlier than May 15th? Absolutely. Many cool-weather plants aren’t affected by the frost, and in fact won’t thrive once the scorching summer sun kicks in. You can put these in sometimes as early as March 15th (that’s 2 months before the expected last frost date in NJ). It really depends on the type of vegetable and the kind of temps that plant prefers.
Cool weather loving plants: peas, radishes, spinach, beets, kale, cabbage, carrots
Early summer plants: lettuce, mesclun greens, swiss chard, broccoli, arugula
Hot weather loving plants: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini