Updated: Feb 9, 2022
I used to wish I lived in a warmer climate. Simply because I wanted to be able to grow my tropical plants without having to bring them in the house or put them in the greenhouse for the winter to protect them from frost. I grew to really enjoy zone 7b though. I get to fall garden and grow crops that enjoy cooler weather. Gardening comes to a halt in winter, then picks up again in the spring. I learned what my own microclimate was like to help me determine what I can grow and when.
"A microclimate is the local climate difference of a small area within the surrounding area and can offer different growing conditions in the larger USDA Hardiness Zone. The conditions of microclimates are determined by plant orientation and exposure to heat, light, water, and wind. For example, inland urban areas are typically warmer than surrounding rural areas since the buildings and pavement reflect and generate additional heat. Though the urban and rural areas are in the same USDA growing zone, city gardeners may successfully grow plants recommended for a warmer zone because of the additional heat. Other microclimates include courtyards, rooftops, hills, valleys, and areas near structures and bodies of water."
Zone 7 consists of 7a and 7b. What's the difference? About 10-15 degrees. So these zones can generally plant the same things around the same time.
Spring & Fall
For my microclimate, my spring weather is about the same as my fall weather. With the exception that spring obviously gets warmer as summer gets closer. My cold spring weather doesn't last very long because it feels like summer by the time the first week of May arrives. This might not be the case for everyone. So for me, my spring crops are planted early so I can harvest them before they bolt (plants bolt to flower and produce seeds, this happens when the plant reaches the end of it's life cycle or when it's too hot). So I start my seeds well into winter, around December, so they can go out in the garden by February.
Lemon Balm (spring)
Sweet Potatoes (spring)
Here's a tip, whatever doesn't produce fruit/veggie from a flower (like tomatoes, eggplant, melons, etc.), is a cool weather crop. If you prefer to direct sow, you can. I like to start indoors and transplant because it gives me a head start.
Chard (yup, chard will do well in warm weather, but be sure to give it partial shade)
Collards (depends on the variety, and just like chard, keep it shaded)