What are the Best Vegetables to Plant and Grow in Cold Frame – Fall, Winter, and Spring?
In this blog post, you will find which the best cold frame vegetables plant during the Fall, Winter, and Spring is. You’ll also learn which plant is best sowed/harvested when, along with a dash of interesting facts, historical and scientific, to accompany each of the two lists:
The best cold frame vegetables to sow in Fall
The cold frame vegetables for all winter long
The veggies suitable for cold frame gardening in Spring
What is a Cold Frame for Plants?
“A cold frame is а short-heightened greenhouse meant to keep greenery safe from severe weather, moisture, and low temperatures during fall, winter and spring.” commented the London-based Fantastic Gardening Services, “Basically, cold frames allow you to greatly expand what you plant and produce.” the gardening experts added.
So what to grow in a cold frame?
Here are the best vegetables for a cold frame:
The 10 Best Cold Frame Vegetables to Sow in Fall
Fall, being the warmest of the other off-seasons is a great time for growing larger sized veggies. Longer days lead to better solar ray absorption and higher growing temperatures within the cold frames. For most areas, the Fall growing season is between late August and mid-December.
Thus let’s look at some examples of plants suitable for cold box gardening during that season:
- Carrots - There are many types of carrots that are great to plant during fall, for a spring harvest. Sow these in September. Carrots are the richest sources of beta-carotene, meaning that they turn into vitamin A when digested. Beta-carotene, not only helps improve eyesight but also boosts our immune system. Carrots will also last for a while when outside the fridge.
- Leeks - Plant leeks in early fall(around the beginning of September) for a spring harvest. Leeks were very popular amongst the ancient Greeks and Romans because of their extremely beneficial effect on the throat. Even Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, credited his clear and healthy voice to a diet of leeks.
- Radishes - Sow your radish seeds 4-6 weeks before the first fall frost, for a winter harvest. Radishes were amongst the veggies offered as wages to the Ancient Egyptian labourers. This was because of their ability to relieve stomach aches, regulate blood pressure, and grow almost anywhere.
- Turnips - Turnip greens are fairly easy to grow in almost any well-drained soil. They can be sown in late August to early October for a fall harvest. Turnips were mass-produced and eaten in Germany during WWI when meat and other veggies were scarce. Since their leaves are rich in iron and copper, they were a perfect substitute for the meat they lacked
- Beets - When planting beets in early fall, use slightly heavier soil to protect the plants from any unexpected early frosts. Scientific studies have shown that beets posses can help reduce the risk of many types of cancer. This is due to the vegetable’s high levels of unique antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
- Parsnips - This veggie can be sown in mid to late autumn. However, when early spring comes and it’s time for harvest, it’s important to be quick and swift, and not wait for the temperatures to rise. Parsnips originally come from Europe, but can now be found throughout the whole world. Because of their hardy nature, they now grow wild in many uncultivated areas.
- Onions - This strong crop can withstand low temperatures with ease, making it perfect for a cold frame. When planted in autumn, this pungent vegetable can be harvested by early summer. Onions are one of the first vegetables to ever be cultivated by mankind, dating back to before 5,000 B.C. Thanks to its amazing dietary value and incredible medicinal properties, it has helped humans survive throughout the ages.
- Swiss Chard - This green leafy vegetable is usually sown in August or in some cases in early spring(for summer harvest). Although Swiss Chard is a type of beet, it differentiates from the rest because of its inedible root.
- Claytonia - The seeds of this vegetable are usually sown between August and early September. When kept in a cold frame, the plant needs to be kept moist until the raining season comes. Claytonia is famous for being used during the California Gold Rush by miners to prevent scurvy.
Cold Frame for Vegetables all Winter Long
Without a doubt, winter is the season most-difficult for growing anything, but difficult does not mean impossible, as long as done right!
Winter cold frame vegetables:
- Arugula - Being a cool-season leafy crop, Arugula can be sown as early as January in a cold frame. Harvest can be done at any time once the leaves are of a suitable height. The Arugula was a very popular plant amongst the ancient Romans, because of its aphrodisiac properties.
- Spinach - Seeds should be sown in early winter, as early as a week before the first frost. During the great depression, in the 1930s, spinach sales saw a huge spike, with an astonishing 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption. This was all thanks to the fictional character of Popeye the Sailor. As you can see, home-grown spinach is health and budget-friendly, too!
- Mache - Mache are best sown in late winter and harvested in mid-spring. This vegetable’s nickname “corn salad” stems from the fact that it grows as a common weed in wheat fields.
- Lettuce - Lettuce can be sown as earlier as 4 to 6 weeks before the last spring frost (as long as it’s in a cold frame). Although lettuce has been consumed for more than six thousand years, it originally started out as a weed around the Mediterranean basin.
Spring is the best time of the year to sow salad greens or sprouting plants for your summer garden. Here, it’s good to note that most seeds intended for a summer garden, should be sown around 5 weeks before the last frost.
And here are:
- Endive - Sow this plant in your cold frames, between the beginning of April and mid-May. Never let the temperature fall beneath 68°F as that would bolt the plant. According to studies, the endive plant is quite beneficial for humans as it can prevent cataract, anaemia and the development of certain types of cancer.
- Kale - Kale growing season is between April and early May. Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables there is and it can grow on compost. Eating it can drastically increase the nutrient content of anyone’s diet.
- Brussels sprouts - Early varieties of brussels sprouts are sown in early spring, around mid-March and bear fruit around October. Brussels sprouts are so popular in fact that there are more than 9000 ways to cook them (balsamic-roasted, cherry-glazed,dijon-braised and many more).
- Asparagus - When sowing asparagus in cold frames, wait until the soil is around 60°F to do so. Unlike most other veggies, this perennial takes great patience to grow, as it will take three years before you’ll be able to harvest it. When the harvesting time does come (in spring), however, cut the spears at ground level and continue harvesting for another few weeks, but no later than the beginning of July. It’s really no surprise that a sort of asparagus(white asparagus) is one of the most labour-intensive vegetables to grow as once clipped it must be placed immediately in a dark box so that it stays white.
- Peas - What makes peas the ideal veggies to sow in cold frames is the fact that they need soil that isn’t too cold and also an abundance of sunlight. Sow these in early spring, around the end of March, beginning of April to get a good summer harvest (between June and October). Peas are very dense on vitamin C and one portion of these little green wonders is like eating two big apples. Keep an eye out for spider eggs, tho!
- Rhubarb - Rhubarb is best planted in early spring for a mid-summer harvest. Although this herbaceous perennial is oftentimes consumed as a fruit, botanically speaking it belongs to the group of vegetables.
- Potatoes - Potatoes can be sown as early as two weeks after the last spring frost. Depending on the sort of potatoes you have planted, harvesting time may vary - between June and October. Potatoes are so popular in fact that they were the first vegetable grown in space (aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia)
Sowing the right seeds in a cold frame is crucial for a fruitful crop. That’s why choosing the appropriate vegetables for a cold box is a must for any agriculture and gardening enthusiast!