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Published January 26, 2012, 06:48 PM

Warmer weather helps gardeners be more adventurous

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Good news for gardeners, more plants can now survive North Dakota's harsh winters. A new U.S. Department of Agriculture map shows the country is getting warmer, including the northern states - and the reason might surprise you.

Good news for gardeners, more plants can now survive North Dakota's harsh winters. A new U.S. Department of Agriculture map shows the country is getting warmer, including the northern states - and the reason might surprise you.

You may not think of gardening as an adventure, but more and more customers at Baker Garden and Gift are taking risks by trying out different perennials.

Eric Baker – Baker Garden and Gift: "There are a few new varieties that are considered hearty for us."

And those risks are paying off.

Eric Baker: "Thyme, some of the sage seems to do really well, oregano and a lot of the different mints."

Scientists believe they're doing well partly because of global warming.

Dr. Ronald Smith – NDSU Horticulturist: "There's less ice in the world, the oceans are going to be rising."

And so are the temperatures. The new USDA plant hardiness zone map puts most of North Dakota in Zone 4A - meaning the average annual extreme minimum temperature is negative 30 to negative 25 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2001, that average was negative 40 to negative 30 degrees.

Dr. Ronald Smith: "We can start our gardens earlier, we can extend them longer. We can have sequential plantings in our gardens. We can enjoy a wider range of produce."

Like sweet corn, a bigger variety of tomatoes and even grapes. But experts say the map isn't the only guideline for gardening. Plant vitality depends on a variety of things like the soil and even how much snow is on the ground.

Eric Baker: "If the snow is covering an area it doesn't allow cold temperatures to seep into an area."

So while temperatures may be getting warmer, there's still no guarantee that new plant will pop up in the spring. The USDA website now allows you to find specific plant hardiness zones. All you have to do is enter your zip code.

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