What Crops Grow Best for Your Gardening Zone?

What Crops Grow Best for Your Gardening Zone?If you’re new to USDA zone 5 or are new to organic vegetable gardening in general, you might be wondering when you can start planting zone 5 vegetables in your garden. Every zone has general planting guidelines that can help you and zone 5 is no exception.

Today, we’re discussing when to start planting zone 5 vegetables so you can start your garden on the right foot.

Growing zone 5 vegetables can depend on a variety of factors, so do keep this as more of a guideline and speak to your local master gardener or nursery for season-specific tips.

Knowing Your Gardening Zone

Knowing your hardiness zone will help you keep track of what plants can survive the temperatures where you live. Iowa falls into Zone 5, which means the plants here can survive temperatures no lower than -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

There is a little bit of flexibility, however. If a plant falls in hardy zones 5-8, it can be planted in zones 5, 6, 7 and 8. A plant in zones 5-8 would probably not survive being planted in zones 4 or lower since that would be far too cold. The same plant wouldn’t survive in the hot, dry summers of zone 9 or higher.

A Little Bit About Zone 5

USDA zone 5 breaks down into zones 5a and 5b. Though they both fall in the overarching zone 5, their planting dates do differ by a couple of weeks.

Planting is typically determined by the first frost-free date and the last frost-free date. Zone 5’s first frost-free date is May 30th and the last frost-free date is October 1st.

Depending on who you ask, gardeners in zone 5 tend to wait until mid-May before they start planting their vegetables and annual beds. Vegetables and annuals do very well in zone 5 as long as a late frost doesn’t take place at the beginning of the planting season.

Most hardy zone 5 plants or above-ground perennials can stand up to a late frost or they will lie dormant until early spring.

Recommended Plants for Zone 5

A lot of colorful perennials grow well in zone 5. These include creeping thyme, creeping phlox, dianthus, violets, and stonecrop, which are all excellent grown covers for zone 5 gardens that get a lot of sun. If you’re looking to plant vegetables in zone 5, we recommend the following:

Mid-May – end of September: 

  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Squash

End of March – end of June:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Spinach

Mid-July – mid-October:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Spinach

Beginning of April – end of October:

  • Asparagus
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes

Keep in mind that if you live in zone 5, you can grow hardy vegetables in the winter months. Those plants include:

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Collards
  • Parsnips
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Mache
  • Swiss chard

Each of these crops can be planted in the late fall for winter harvest, but don’t forget to take proper precautions so the plants can thrive. Fashion together a cold frame, low tunnel, or use a thick layer of straw mulch so the plants survive the cold winter temperatures.

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