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How to get the most out of your gardening zone

SchneiderPeeps - Gardening in zone 9 is a year round project. Learn what to plant and harvest each month, plus what to do in the dead of summer. Plus tips for other zones

When you look at the back of seed packets you’ll see a map of the US (if you live in the US) with colors on it; those are USDA gardening zones. Each zone represents a certain average low temperature for that area and are 10 degrees apart.

I live along the Texas Gulf Coast which is a zone 9 (zone 9a to be exact). That means that the average low temperatures in my area are 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit. You can find your zone by typing in your zip code in this map

Although gardening zones (often called hardiness zones) focus on the cold temperatures, there are some other things you can glean from them and often gardeners will use them as a way of communicating what kind of climate they have. Knowing your gardening zone is a good place to start.

But they don’t tell the whole story. A gardening zone 9 along the California coast is similar to a gardening zone 9 along the Texas coast in the winter, but not during the summers. Santa Cruz has an average August high temperature of 76°F, while our city along the Texas Gulf Coast has a average August high temperature of 95°F – that’s a big difference!

This is why it’s super important to really learn about your climate and not just rely on knowing what your gardening zone is. If you need help understanding your climate we have a wonderful short course to help you out. You can learn more about the Understanding Your Climate course here.

In a moment, I’m going to share with you some tips for gardening in zone 9. But first let me tell you about a tip that is good for any gardening zone.

Write-things-down. Keeping track of what you planted and when, what you learned, which varieties did well and which ones didn’t will help you immensely. I know you think you’ll remember, but really, there’s just too much good gardening stuff and you won’t.

 The Gardening Notebook a great tool to help you create a custom notebook for your garden. 

If you don’t live in a zone 9 area, I have list of similar posts for your area written by some of my blogging friends who live all over the US and Canada. So, if you want to skip on down to the end of the post and find your zone, feel free to do so. 


Tips for growing a year round garden in zone 9

Know that you will plant your spring garden earlier and your fall garden later than most people online.  It’s okay. If you read a lot of gardening blogs, don’t get discouraged when everyone is putting in their fall gardens in late July and your garden is all burned up.

I share my photos of my burned up garden in July and August so you will know you aren’t alone. Your fall garden will be put in in late September or early October and will grow all winter long. 

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that just because you have 8 or nine months between frost dates that you have an 8 or 9 month growing season. You probably don’t.

Most plants (even heat loving ones) can’t take temperatures that reach the high 90’s or 100’s day after day. That means don’t dilly dally around when it comes time to plant your spring garden. I know no one else is planting outside in early to  mid March (remember tip number 1) but you need to. 

Nothing but peppers and okra will produce in August and much of September. Either rip out the plants you do have that are barely surviving or keep them watered and they might start producing again when the temperatures come down.

We usually start cleaning up our beds but I do leave the healthiest cherry tomato plant for the fall. You can also try covering your plants with shade cloth. We’ve not done this but it’s on the list to try. 

There is no winter break in zone 9.  In some zones you put in your spring/summer garden and you harvest your spring/summer garden, then you put in your fall garden and you harvest your fall garden then you take a winter break. In a zone 9 garden that has a hot summer, your break (kind of) is in the heat of the summer when very few things are growing.

Of course, you can take a winter break but honestly, winter is the best time to garden in most zone 9 gardens. It’s cooler, there are fewer pests, and there isn’t the rush to preserve everything since most of the winter garden is greens and brassicas.

If you’re trying to grow most of what your family eats, do you know how much you need to plant? I have some printable worksheets to help you out. Just fill out the form below and they’ll be emailed to you.

Zone 9 Gardening Month by Month

SchneiderPeeps - The January Garden in zone 9 is full of green and looks like many zones late spring garden. We are harvesting vegetables such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower and swiss chard.

January If you planted a fall garden you should be enjoying all kinds of greens, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower from your garden this month. You might need to sow some more lettuce seeds or carrot seeds. You can also start seeds later this month.

This is the time to make sure all your garden area that wasn’t used for a fall garden is ready for the spring. Layout your spring garden on paper, knowing that crops such as kale and swiss chard will still be producing into summer so use those beds last. If you didn’t plant onions in the fall, you can buy transplants and plant them this month.

February If you are going to start seeds inside and didn’t in January, you need to as soon as possible. Your average last frost date is probably sometime this month. You don’t need to plant right away but you need to be ready to plant in early March. You can probably go ahead and sow pea and bean seeds outside this month. You can also plant potatoes this month. 

March – This is the month to get most of your seeds and transplants in for the spring and summer garden. Plant summer squash, tomatoes, more beans (to keep extend the harvest season), beets,melons etc. I like to succession plant some things like our summer squash.

SchneiderPeeps The April Garden

April  Early this month plant sweet potatoes, okra and winter squash. All the winter crops, except kale and swiss chard,  have probably all bolted by now so clean out these beds and use them. You might also sow a few more summer squash seeds to extend the harvest. 

May Keep everything watered and weeded. You will probably pick your first summer squash, beans and tomato this month. 

June The tomatoes, summer squash and beans should really be coming in this month. Towards the end of this month is when you will probably begin to feel overwhelmed by the heat, the pests and the harvest. 

SchneiderPeeps - The July Garden

July It’s getting hot so make sure you are watering a lot. The harvest should still be coming in quite a lot at the beginning of the month. The melons should start ripening now. This is the time to think about using shade cloth to cover some of your plants. Many tomatoes will get sun scorched in the heat.

Your winter squashes will probably be ready by the end of the month. The onions should be ready this month. As you clear areas of your garden out, consider sowing buckwheat as a green manure or to feed the bees. 

August It’s mainly peppers and okra this month. You’ll get a few random tomatoes but mostly the plants are struggling to survive. Same with the summer squash. You can decided to just pull it all up or try to keep things watered enough to make it to fall. Either way is fine – it’s hot and you deserve a break. If you pull up things up, consider sowing buckwheat in it’s place.

This is a great time to make notes in your gardening notebook

September By mid month it should start cooling down. You can start some seeds indoors or wait a few more weeks to sow them outside. You should still be harvesting peppers and okra this month. You can probably harvest your sweet potatoes now. Towards the end of the month you can plant some tomato transplants for the winter (I like to do cherry type tomatoes because they ripen quicker). 

SchneiderPeeps - The October Garden

October Now’s the time to sow your fall garden- lettuce, kale, chard, broccoli, beets and cauliflower are all things I plant this month. I try to wait until we’re going to have rain for 2-3 days and sow seeds the day before. We can still have hot days in October so make sure you water regularly. 

November  You should be harvesting lettuce and other baby greens by the end of the month. If you are going to plant onions and garlic for next summer now is the time. I really like starting onions by seeds. I just sprinkle them in a line  and let them grow all bunched together and in February dig them up and transplant them.

Depending on the winter you might be able to keep your tomato plants going, just be sure to cover them if you dip below freezing. You should not have to cover any of your cold weather crops unless you dip into the low 20s. 

December You should be able to harvest greens and maybe even some broccoli and cauliflower towards the end of the month. Cool temperatures and almost no pests make winter gardening in zone 9 super enjoyable.

Gardening in other zones

Zone 3
Joybilee Farm in Canada
The Northern Homestead in Canada
Zone 4
Homespun Seasonal Living in Montana
Idlewild Alaska in Alaska
Zone 5
Grow a Good Life in Maine
The Homestead Lady in Utah
Zone 6
Learning and Yearning in Pennsylvania
Zone 7
Little Sprouts Learning in Oklahoma
Pierce Ponderosa in Georgia
Zone 8
Homemaking Organized in Washington 
The Farmer’s Lamp in Louisiana
Preparedness Mama in Texas
Zone 9
SchneiderPeeps in Texas
Gardening in zone 9 is a year round project. Learn what to plant and harvest each month, plus what to do in the dead of summer. Plus tips for other zones.


I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, so if you garden in zone 9 what are your tips? 

Thanks for sharing with your friends!


Sunday 29th of August 2021

I’m having trouble starting seeds indoors. Last time I tried that got long and lanky. I live in 9a zone

Angi Schneider

Monday 13th of September 2021

You are probably starting them too early then. I usually start mine 4-6 weeks before I want to plant them in the ground instead of 8 weeks before. You can also repot plants that seem to be getting lanky, especially tomatoes, just be sure to bury them deeper than they originally were.


Tuesday 9th of March 2021

Hi Thank you for the info! My husband and I just finished building a giant raised garden box (40ft x 4 ft) and we plan on filling it next weekend and then planting (and hopefully being semi-successful). Any advice on filling the garden box? Best type of soil that is also affordable? I have already started some cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, bush beans, and some herbs and plan to transplant them once we have filled the thing with dirt. Thanks!

Angi Schneider

Thursday 11th of March 2021

Wow, that's really big - and really awesome. For filling it, bagged garden soil is good. If you can find bulk soil, that would be the cheapest way to do. Soil is usually sold by the cubic yard. To find out how much you need, you'll multiply the 40X4 to get 160sq ft. Then multiply 160 by however tall your bed is to get the cubic feet....if it's 1 ft, then that's easy, your total is 160 cubic feet. Then divide 160 by 27 (the number of feet in one cubic yard) and you'll need about 6 cubic yards. You can add in some compost or worm casting to enrich the soil a bit if you want to. You'll also want to mulch with something that decomposes which will build the soil for the next season. If you aren't sure about mulches, I have an article the might help.


Saturday 10th of October 2020

I realize this reply is years after some of yours. I live in northwest California. The coast. When my garden is struggling and needs a little pick me up, i use epsome salt. It has plenty of nutrients to help plants that are strugglinng to grow well.

Angi Schneider

Monday 12th of October 2020

That's a great tip! Thanks for sharing!


Tuesday 17th of July 2018

Thanks for the great information. I just started a garden this year on the side of my house. It is the only part of the yard that gets any sun. The rest is shaded with mature trees most of the day. My home is in Northern California in Zone 9b. It was hard to find plants in mid July to plant, but managed to find a few pepper plants and transplanted a tomato I started in March (unfortunately it didn't do much as the weather was mostly mid 50's and overcast until June), also planted some corn that seems to be doing great. I've seen the farmers not to far away in the Central Valley plant 2 or 3 crops of corn in a season so figured it wasn't too late to start that from seed. So far so good. I'll be ready this fall to plant some good greens and broccoli.


Wednesday 7th of February 2018

Really great post. You wrote an article according to the zone which is a good thing. Thanks.

Angi Schneider

Thursday 8th of February 2018

Well, thank you.