02. Growing Seasons

The growing season is defined by average temperature and daylight hours. In North America, this term is typically used to refer to the time period between the first and last frost. The total time of daylight hours is dependent on the latitude at which the plants are put down. The average temperature at the latitude is critical always, as the average temperature increases as you move toward the equator and decreases as you move away from it.

In the United States the growing season is usually from about May to October. In Europe this season is typically April to October. The length of day, average temperature, soil conditions, and other factors contribute to specific regional plant growth.

Frost is significant as it usually indicates the first occurrence of freezing overnight temperatures. Frost is usually the limiting factor in most annuals. In tropical or sub-tropical areas, the weather is not the limiting factor, but water is. In the “dry” season, the water limitation causes plants to recede in that part of the year.

Most plants you will see in your local market will be divided into two categories – annuals and perennials. Annuals complete their lifecycle in a single season, and require seeding to renew and grow again. Perennials are persistent and renew themselves again and again in various growth cycles. Our vegetables will complete their lifecycles in a single season, and begin again with a new plant, next season.

Soil Issues and Geography

Potassium is one the most critical and important limiting factors in the growth of the plants. Listed below is the potassium information for many states:

Low Potassium
· Florida
· Georgia
· South Carolina
· Virginia
· Michigan, and
· Maine

Medium Potassium
· Alabama
· Louisiana
· Texas
· Ohio
· Pennsylvania
· New York
· Kentucky
· Tennessee
· Minnesota, and
· Wisconsin

High Potassium
· California
· Oregon
· Nevada
· New Mexico
· Arizona
· Idaho
· Washington
· Nebraska
· N. Dakota
· S. Dakota, and
· Utah

Other Critical Soil Factors

Other critical soil factors are:
· Iron
· Soil Acidity
· Magnesium
· Soil Temperature and Moisture
· Manganese
· Zinc
· Sulfur
· Soil Texture
· Boron
· Ammonium
· Sodium
· Aluminum
· Copper
· Chloride
· Nitrate, and
· Bicarbonate

Many of these nutrients are micronutrients. Boron is relatively new as a plant nutrient. Many of these nutrients are utilized as they become available for consumption. Soil acidity, temperature, water availability, carbon dioxide and other conditions limit a plant’s ability to utilize these elements.

From these conditions, and other factors, you already know that certain crops are associated with certain parts of the country. For instance, wines are associated with California in the United States. The soil acidity and temperature are often driving factors for this particular plant. In the plants that you sow, it will serve you well to know your soil and its nutrients, and weaknesses. You can test your soil for PH, or acidity levels and find your region’s average temperature and sunlight by looking it up. Many annual plants now have suggestions based on your latitude and longitude. Some plants thrive in regions where shorter growing seasons are fine. It is in your best interest to match your plant to the growing season, sunlight and precipitation in your region.

Let’s take Canada for example. Canada at its extreme has a very long growing season of more than 280 days. In Upper Canada, the growing season is as short as 40 days. A plant would need to complete its entire life cycle from germination to reproduction and death in 40 days. Sounds quite amazing – right? For every latitude, there is an ideal plant for that environment. It just takes a grower who can research, and find an ideal plant for your conditions.