It is possible to develop a successful vegetable garden, but the following factors are important:

* Good soil preparation. The area should be well dug to a depth of about 1 foot, every year. Improving the quality of soil may be necessary. Various authorities will test the soil so that amendments may be identified.

* It may be necessary to fence the area depending on the wildlife in the vicinity.

* Some people successfully grow vegetables in raised beds.

* It isn’t necessary to start plants in a garage during winter months. Seed may be planted directly into prepared soil, any time in May or June, or even in the fall, for the following summer. Take the time to plant the seed carefully with spacing as recommended on the packet. You will be pleased with the results.

* Vegetable gardens will need to be irrigated.

* Selection of seed is very important. Our growing season is short, so choose varieties of seed with a short growing season.

* In general leafy vegetables and root vegetables should be the focus of attention. These vegetables can withstand frost which can occur at any time during the summer.

* Fleshy vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, squash, zucchini and peppers aren’t successful because they are so sensitive to temperature changes.

* Label the rows of seed so that you have a record of which varieties do well.


Label the rows of seed so that you have a record of which varieties do.

Recommended herbs and vegetables:



  • Chives — They are perennial and grow like crazy in Summit County, but be warned, they spread easily and are difficult to get rid of once they get established! They grow throughout the summer, but are at their peak early on, producing many blooms which are great for garnishing savory dishes. If you haven’t got any in your garden, send us a message on our “Contact Us” page and we’ll give you a clump!
  • Dill — It is an annual which grows from seed successfully, but the extent of its growth depends on the conditions during the summer. Some years the crop is really good, but in others, it is limited. If the fronds are in excess of requirements when fresh, pick them, wrap each frond in foil, and freeze. You’ll be pleased to use some of your own produce in the winter!
  • Lovage —  A somewhat unusual herb, but once it gets established, it will come back every summer. It seems to need little water.
  • Mint — It is well worth getting this perennial herb established in your garden because it is so versatile. It will come back year after year, but a word of caution, it tends to spread. The leaves are susceptible to frost, so pick them before the frost returns (because they will go black) and make them into mint sauce!



  • Arugula (Rocket) — If you love this salad vegetable this is a cheap way to enjoy it all summer long. When you can get it, it is so expensive in the supermarkets. You may have to cut back the plants to get young leaves as the summer progresses. Older leaves tend to be strong and peppery, as do certain varieties. Experimentation will reap rewards!
  • Broccoli Raab — Traditional broccoli doesn’t really have enough time to mature in our climate, but broccoli raab does well. It provides a delicious alternative to other leafy vegetables.
  • Lettuces — They are unlikely to form good hearts so choose varieties which produce interesting leaves (mescluns). See  Renee’s Gardens’ mesclun – “Cut & Come Again”, “Heirloom Cutting Mix”, “Monet’s Garden Mesclun”, “Paris Market Mix”. Slugs like lettuce so watch out for plant damage.
    Tip: Do not pull up the plants – cut the leaves off and new leaf will return.









  • Mustard Greens — They grow really well, so if you like their flavor, you will be rewarded with a healthy crop for the entire summer.
  • Pak (Bak) Choi — If you enjoy Asian vegetables, this is one for you, though the leaf base is not as tight as the ones grown at lower elevations.
  • Spinach — Many varieties are successful, including Japanese varieties. Just cut the new leaf off and they will produce all summer.
  • Stir Fry Mixes —  Different companies produce different combinations of seed, but an example is that produced by Renee’s Gardens which contains Red Mustard, Mizspoona, Pac Choi and Asian Red Kale. The selection grows well, is appetizing and colorful, producing a mix for fast, easy and nutritious meals full of well-balanced fresh flavors. The vegetables can be cooked or used in salads, if the leaves are young.
  • Swiss Chard — Especially the variety with the red stalk. The silver stalked variety does grow but the flavor is a less sweet.



  • Peas — They are the only legume that makes it to maturity, and then, not well. They are better eaten as snow peas or mange tout. Read the instructions on the back of the packet before planting. They’ll probably have to be soaked in water for a day or so. Pea pods are produced on vines so need some netting or other form of support as they mature.


Roots, tubers, etc:

  • Carrots – Remember to select those varieties which have a short growing season. Carrots need well prepared soil to grow successfully. We tend not to get a lot of bugs up here, but watch out for slugs.
  • Garlic – Here’s a little tip. Take a few garlic corms and split them up into cloves. Plant the cloves with the pointed end up, in the fall. The following summer, they will produce foliage, somewhat like that of a green onion. Dig them up with a spade and you will find a small garlic corm. Keep the wonderfully fragrant leaves and finely slice them for inclusion in salads.
  • Radishes – Some varieties do better than others, but radishes are easy to grow and are the first vegetables to mature. It is so nice to be able to pull up a few radishes from the garden and eat them as an accompaniment to a sandwich.
  • Potatoes – They will grow up here, given the right conditions. Careful selection of seed potatoes is important. Take into account the growing time to maturation. If you think you are going to get a bumper crop of baking potatoes, forget it! However, small home grown boiled potatoes served with some butter and parsley are a real treat. A Colorado company which provides seed potatoes is “Potato Garden”, a new name following the amalgamation of Ronniger Potato Farm LLC and Milk Ranch Specialty Potatoes LLC. Select the “Early Potatoes” as shown on this site:
  • Turnips – Easy to grow and a few seeds will provide a great crop. Eat them small or wait until they are large in size, but watch that they don’t get attacked by bugs. Lift turnips before the ground freezes, then wrap and store in the refrigerator. They will provide you with food for several months

Home grown Summit County turnips

Home grown Summit County turnips



  • Rhubarb – It is a cool season, perennial plant that is very winter hardy and resistant to drought.
    Once a crown gets established, it will produce stems all summer. Crowns can be purchased by mail from companies such as Burpee or, sometimes, from local nurseries. Also, it may be grown from seed, but this tends to be a bit of a challenge.


A Vegetable Garden near Breckenridge at 9,200 feet.
A Vegetable Garden near Breckenridge at 9,200 feet.

Raised Beds

Not only may vegetables be produced in the ground, but also in raised beds. Silvana’s Community Garden in Silverthorne offers both in ground beds and raised beds. The 4H Garden Club in Summit County has 3 raised beds for the production of vegetables in Silvana’s Community Garden, and we will be monitoring their progress throughout the summer.
4/14/2011 To date the raised beds have been prepared by a dedicated adult and the children have selected seeds to grow in the 1’ x 1’ squares, as seen below. Vegetable plants in cores, of varieties which take a long time to mature, will be provided by Neils Lunceford Nursery, too.

4H Raised Bed at Silvana's Community Gardens in Silverthorne

For more information about planting in raised beds, see the following Web sites:
Create a Kitchen Garden with 4’ Raised Beds,default,pg.html
This Kitchen Garden Planner shows the gardener exactly how many plants to grow in one square foot. It is a most useful tool which is being used by the 4H children for planning their vegetable gardens.

6/10/2011 The beds aren't exactly thriving, but there has been some progress. The peas and beans are beginning to emerge.

Spinach, beans and one garlic plant  - 6/10/2011

Peas - 6/10/2011. Slow growth which is not surprising because of our very cold spring.

The following photos were taken on 7/23/2011. In a little under 6 dweeks, just look what happened to those peas!

Silvrthorne is considerably warmer than other areas of the county so squash production is not something for all. Notice the use of "walls of water" for growing tomatoes.

Harvesting potatoes from 4H's raised boxes at Silvana's Garden at the end of August. The little girl was so excited!


We try to educate our members and the community about gardening in Summit County and provide a social setting for informational exchanges to share the beauty of gardening with others.

There's lots going on in our Club and room for many to be involved. It's surprising how much we accomplish in our short Summit summer