Growing a vegetable garden is such a fun summer pastime, not to mention a fantastic way to bring healthy, organic, home-grown produce to the table. Some vegetable varieties will grow better than others, and unless you are a seasoned gardener, you might not know which vegetables are better than others. So, if you are interested in growing vegetables in Colorado this summer, here is a list of some of the best options for which types of vegetables grow best in Colorado!
What Types of Vegetables Grow Best in Colorado?
First off, which types of vegetables grow best in Colorado? Our arid environment can make gardening challenging. We experience a short growing season, unpredictable precipitation, very low humidity, intense sunlight, and extreme variations in temperature and weather conditions. In Colorado, the average last killing frost usually lands around mid-May, and the average first killing frost can arrive anywhere from August to October. This makes our growing season anywhere from 60-150 days, on average. Due to this, sticking to vegetables that have short maturity periods will give you the best results. Any garden plants with longer maturity periods will need to be started indoors several weeks early or you will need to buy plant starts from your local Garden Center when the weather begins to warm up. To get the most out of your season, you can also plant cool crops at the beginning and end of the gardening season. Such plants can withstand mild freezes and prefer the cooler temperatures earlier/later in the season.
26 Vegetables You Can Grow in Colorado:
Here is a list of garden vegetables for you to plant in your Colorado garden that are all but foolproof!
Beets are a cool-season crop that is best planted from seed. They have a short maturity period, with most varieties taking only 55-70 days on average to reach maturity. They are also highly nutritious!
Spinach is a cool-season crop that is also very tolerant of hot weather. They need full sun and can be tolerant of many different types of soil as long as proper moisture is maintained. Spinach can be ready for harvest in as little as 6 weeks!
This cool-season crop can be grown in warmer temperatures, though it fares better in early spring when temperatures are cool. Lettuce can also be great for container gardening for those of you with limited space!
Radishes are a cool-season crop that matures very quickly (3-5 weeks after planting, approximately). They require full sun, but cooler temperatures. If you really love radishes, you can sow seeds every 10 days until early summer to keep a constant supply coming in!
Another cool-season crop that can be ready for harvest in as little as six weeks. It is simple to grow and a nutritious vegetable! Plant in well-amended soil with full sun exposure and keep the soil moist for best results.
This cool-season crop can be grown in the spring and the fall. It has a slightly longer maturity period so it is recommended to start from seed indoors in March so that they will be ready to be transferred outdoors mid-April.
7. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are a cool-season crop with quite a long growing season. They are often planted in early spring and harvested in the fall. So, if you are looking for instant gratification, this might not be the best option for you. If you have patience though, they are easy to grow, take up little space, and are relatively low-maintenance!
Cauliflower is a cool-season crop. There are several varieties, but the best for planting in Colorado are varieties that have maturity periods between 45 and 60 days. Cauliflower can be great for both spring and fall planting.
These cool-season crops come with many options in terms of variety. Carrots grow best in loose, sandy soil and require full sun. They are usually ready for harvest within 70-80 days from planting!
This cool-season crop has a maturity period of approximately 60 days and can be planted in both the spring and fall. Cabbage can be grown successfully from seed or from transplants. Plant in full sun in well-amended soil.
Another cool-season crop that is easy to grow. It can be grown to its full size or harvested early when the leaves are smaller and more tender. This is an excellent option for gardeners looking for nutrient-packed garden produce!
Peas are another great early-season vegetable. They can tolerate cooler temperatures and take approximately 60 days to reach maturity. Consistently harvesting mature snap peas and sugar peas will encourage continued production.
These cool-season crops require approximately 30-60 days to reach maturity. They like full sun and soil that is rich in nutrients.
Onions, while they are actually a warm-season crop requiring a longer growing season, can tolerate cooler temperatures, making their maturity period manageable. Certain varieties will do better than others, so do your research!
Parsnips are a cool-season crop that will continue to mature into the warm season. They have a longer maturity period of around 120 days, though this is usually not an issue since they are tolerant of warmer temperatures.
16. Swiss Chard
This cool-season crop needs full sun and likes soils that are high in nitrogen, though it can tolerate a wide variety of soils. Swiss chard can take anywhere from 50-60 days to reach maturity, on average.
Potatoes are very low-maintenance and can be fun to plant, though they do take the full season to grow and mature. Plant in early summer during the cool season and harvest in the fall before the first frost!
Warm-Season Vegetables to Plant in Your Garden
There are plenty of other plants that will grow fine in Colorado, but they require slightly more precise care and attention. These plants are not cold-tolerant and therefore must be either started from seed indoors several weeks early, or you must buy plant starts to plant in your garden when the weather is conducive. These plants include the following:
This warm-season crop can take 100 days to be ready for harvest depending on the variety and the weather. Corn requires a lot of space and full sun, so if you have limited space in your garden, this might not be the right option for you!
Tomatoes can only be planted in the warm season, and they can take 100 days or more to reach maturity. You will definitely want to start these plants from seed indoors early, or purchase plant starts. They need at least 8 hours of sun each day and are more particular than other garden plants, so be sure to do your research so you are aware of your tomatoes' care requirements and potential complications.
20. Green Beans
Beans grow well in most places. They are a warm-season crop, they require full sun, and they can take as little as 50 days to reach maturity.
Cucumbers are a staple in most gardens. They are a warm-season crop that is relatively easy to grow. Starting from seed indoors can be difficult, though this is not necessary. Cucumbers can be planted from seed outdoors as soon as the weather warms and still usually produce an impressive harvest throughout the season.
Many different types of squash grow very well in Colorado and produce a bounty. The trick with these is not letting them grow too big, which can happen overnight! They are a warm-season crop, so planting early in the spring will not bode well. Starting seeds indoors is not necessary, though it will increase the productivity of the plant by giving it a head start on the season.
Pumpkins are a warm-season crop that takes as many as 120 days to reach maturity. While they can grow well if the conditions are right, a large crop can be difficult to achieve.
This warm-season garden plant also takes longer to reach maturity (approximately 120 days). This plant can be fun to add to your garden and is quite ornamental, though it is much less common to see in Colorado gardens.
These warm-season crops are fun and delicious to grow, though they can be difficult to transplant, making their long growing season (approximately 100+ days to maturity) difficult to accommodate. Smaller varieties do have shorter growing seasons, making them more conducive for growing them in Colorado!
This warm-season crop is quite similar to tomatoes, requiring specific care to grow well and produce a good harvest. They can take anywhere from 60-150 days to reach maturity, depending on the variety of pepper you want to grow. Learn more about growing peppers!
When Should I Plant My Vegetables in Colorado?
This question relies entirely on the types of plants you are planning on adding to your garden this season. As a general rule of thumb, any frost-sensitive plants should not be planted outside until after the average last frost date, which usually lands around mid-May. Even after this date, however, it is possible to experience freezing temperatures. So, always keep an eye on the forecast and cover any sensitive plants if freezing temperatures are predicted. With cold-hardy plants, you can usually plant them as early as mid-March, but this also may be dependent on the variety. Always check the information on the back of your seed packets or do some research on the varieties you choose to plant to make sure that you are planting them at a time that will allow them to be the most productive.
How to Grow Vegetables in Colorado?
We hope that this has helped answer many of your questions on what varieties are suitable for growing vegetables in Colorado. There is so much more information to be shared on vegetable gardening, so please reach out to us if you have any questions. Happy gardening everyone!
"Colorado Vegetable Guide." Colorado State University Extension. Web. Date accessed: 12 May 2022. Retrieved from: https://growgive.extension.colostate.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/63/2021/01/Colorado-Vegetable-Guide-2.1.pdf