What Vegetables Can I Grow in the Winter in Zone 5 With Protection?


Most cool season vegetables will grow outdoors during the winter in zone 5 with protection. Row covers and cold frames are essential to winter gardening. Place a cold frame, which is a box-like structure with a clear glass or plastic top, over the vegetables. Position the row cover so it lies right above the vegetables inside the cold frame but doesn't touch them. Row covers are lightweight polyester, or polyethylene fabric, that light and water can penetrate.

Salad Greens

  • Lettuce, mesclun, arugula, endive, muzuna, mustard, Swiss chard and brassicas do well with protection in the winter. Bok choy or pak choi, scallions and spinach are a few options that may not fare quite as well all winter long, but will survive for several months longer than normal with protection. Succession plant salad greens for the winter garden the first week of July, and every two weeks afterward, through the third week of October. This will allow crops to mature at different times throughout the winter, so you can harvest them as you eat them, instead of having one large harvest.

Radish and Carrots

  • Plant carrot seed beginning the second week of July, then continue sowing carrot seeds every two weeks afterward, through the second week of September. Plant radish seed the first week of September and keep sowing radish seed every two weeks after the first sowing, through the end of September. Try companion planting with these two crops. Companion planting is when you grow two or more plants that benefit each other in close proximity. Good companion plants with which to sow carrot seed are tomatoes, lettuce, onions or leeks. Kohlrabi, beets, spinach, carrots, parsnips, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, melons, plus bush and pole beans, are excellent plants to companion plant with radish seed.


  • Potatoes do well in the winter garden. Dig a hole that is 12 inches deep before the ground freezes. Fill the bottom 4 inches of the hole with leaves, straw, compost or other organic matter. Set aside enough additional organic matter to cover the top of the potatoes with later in the season when you plant the potato seeds. The last week of November, through the last week of December, plant the sprouted potatoes. Cover them with the organic matter you set aside. Top the organic matter off with an inch of soil. The use of a cold frame is optional. When the ground begins to thaw, watch for signs of the potatoes sprouting. Cover then with soil as they grow and expect to harvest them in late May or early June.

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  • Photo Credit Traditional cold frame image by Shirley Hirst from Fotolia.com growing lettuce image by Adrian Hillman from Fotolia.com carrots image by AGITA LEIMANE from Fotolia.com early potatoes image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com
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