Starting a new fruit or vegetable garden can be an exciting time, and it can be difficult to know where exactly to begin. Even experienced gardeners can find themselves overwhelmed when trying to grow food in a completely new climate. Which crops grow best? How long is the growing season? When is the last average frost date (assuming you aren’t living in a tropical zone)? These are the sorts of questions to start with. Fortunately, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a nationwide standard of splitting the country up into 11 basic hardiness zones based on the area’s coldest average temperatures in winter. Their interactive USDA Hardiness Zone Map is therefore an excellent place to start.