How many times do we read a description in a seed catalog, order the seeds, and then find ourselves disappointed with the results? Our Colorado climate and soil conditions make for some challenging gardening, and varieties that thrive in other parts of the country just don’t do as well here.

Thankfully, we have a state university providing us with research-based information especially suited to our high and dry gardens. From 2004 through 2008, CSU trialed an assortment of potential commercial crops, comparing varieties to discover which, if any, do well here. The results are available on their website under the heading “The Rocky Mountain Small Organic Farm Project.”

As the name suggests, the target audience for this project was commercial growers, but the results are just as helpful for backyard veggie gardeners. Twenty-one different vegetables were trialed, ranging from unlikely Colorado crops such as artichokes and eggplant, through broccoli and cabbage to corn, tomatoes, and melons. A hundred-plus varieties of flowers were also grown and evaluated. Just click on the photo to see which varieties did well, and which we should avoid buying.

In addition, other projects compared garlic growing  techniques, bolt-resistance of numerous lettuce varieties, and flea beetle control methods on broccoli.

As we happily leaf through our piles of seed catalogs and browse the displays at garden centers, having this sort of information customized for our area can help us make the very best selections. Thank you, CSU!

Article and photo by Leslie Holzmann, Certified Colorado Gardener