CSU Veggie Trials

veggie-garden-student-run-csu-perc-lah-094-nx-1How many times do we read a description in a seed catalog, order the seeds, 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. Want to grow your own hops? Here’s how. How about choosing a backyard fruit tree, extending the growing season, or growing your own green manure? This website is crammed with useful information!

Colorado isn’t the only state with a university that does agricultural research. In fact, every state has a “land grant” university tasked with conducting research that will benefit farmers and ranchers residing within its borders. The University of California at Davis, Oregon State University, and Cornell University are three examples.

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 own area can help us make the very best selections. Thank you, CSU!

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