By Cynthia Averett, VINES Urban Farm Manager
One of the first things beginning gardeners ask is, “What kind of plants can I grow?” A good step in figuring this out is finding your “Hardiness Zone”. Hardiness Zones were made by the USDA to help growers figure out what kind of plants will do well in their climate. Here in Binghamton, and most of New York, we are in Zone 5B. To find what zone you are in, you can visit https://garden.org/nga/zipzone/, and look up your zip code, or use their map.
We are lucky to be able to grow a ton of plants in Zone 5B during the spring, summer, and fall. Our winter temperatures are too cold for most plants to grow in the winter, but there are also perennial plants (plants that come back every year) that survive the cold temperatures and begin to grow again in the spring.
Some of the favorites of Zone 5B gardeners are lettuce, kale, swiss chard and other greens, and squashes like summer squash, zucchini, winter squashes and pumpkins. We can grow many types of beans and peas, and other crops that like warm weather like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. For your first garden, you should stick with things that you and your family like to eat!
There are many flowers that grow well in Zone 5B, too. Perennial flowers like Daffodils, Tulips, and Lilies do very well in our climate.
Don’t forget to think about growing herbs! We can grow basil, parsley, cilantro and more. Herbs like sage and thyme may even survive the winter and come back in the spring.
If you are unsure if you can grow something in our climate, simply look up “Can I grow ____ in Zone 5B?” and you will find your answer!