fruits that grow well in Colorado.Colorado is an American state that is known for sunflowers, skiing, golfing, horse-riding and much more nature friendly activities.It is a very hot state with a dry climate, but the temperature stays cool during spring season, There are many different classes of fruits that people can grow, including berries, apples and pears and a variety of citrus fruits.
Growing an Edible Garden in Colorado
Growing an edible garden in Colorado can be more than a fun backyard project. When done right, your edible garden will provide you control over what chemicals and pesticides touch your foods, and can promote a healthy, organic diet. It can also save you money on groceries and can serve as a great educational piece for children.
What edible garden areas you’ll learn about:
- Fruit bushes and trees
As well as how to:
- Encourage pollinators
- Protect your garden from pests
Pikes Peak Urban Gardens says, “growing in Colorado Springs can be daunting because of all of the microclimates, but there are also many edible plants that thrive here and need little maintenance once established. Herbs like rosemary, lavender, chives, and oregano are perennials here in Colorado Springs! Growing edible plants in your garden is very empowering for people of all ages, but kids also enjoy it and feel a sense of ownership and satisfaction when they put care and intention in growing plants. It’s so wonderful to witness a gardener’s pride and joy when they get to harvest the food that they have intentionally grown for themselves, their family and neighbors.”
If you are new to edible gardening, starting out can be simple.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS FROM TIMBERLINE’S PERSONAL GARDENERS THAT CAN HELP YOU GET STARTED:
- Start small.
- Only plant things that you absolutely would eat at first, and add more as you start to gain experience.
- Choose a location.
- Pick a space for your garden that receives at least six hours of daylight each day and is accessible to water.
- Use a soil that is contaminant-free.
- Raised Beds.
- To give you more control of the soil and the nutrients that you receive, consider using a raised bed for your garden.
- Find a community.
- Colorado gardeners can help you learn about what grows best in your area. Pikes Peak Urban Gardens provides great classes that can teach you everything you need to know to have a thriving Colorado garden. Like they say, “We all have a “green thumb”. We all have the ability to grow plants, food, herbs and more! Sometimes it takes a little bit of encouragement, guidance, and support to start, and that is what Pikes Peak Urban Gardens is here to do. We take pride in being a resource to the community. Our robust class schedule helps people exercise their “green thumb” and reconnect with the part of themselves that already knows how to garden and grow!”
In Colorado, there are some limitations when it comes to growing your food because of the elevation. However, there are still many kinds of fruits and vegetables that you can grow to make a thriving garden for food.
Starting your seeds indoors is a great way to start harvesting from your edible garden even sooner, regardless of Colorado’s long cold season.
Download our “Increasing the Yield of Your Edible Garden” guide:
FRUITS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR EDIBLE GARDEN
EDIBLE FRUIT TREES
Because of the climate and altitude of Colorado, growing fruits can be difficult. However, there are some fruit trees and fruit bushes that thrive in Colorado weather.
Some fruit trees that thrive in Colorado include apple, pear, apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach, and plum.
Many of these varieties can handle weather up to -25 degrees Fahrenheit as long as they are planted in a protected area (near the home).
EDIBLE FRUIT BUSHES
- Red raspberries
- Yellow raspberries
VEGETABLES TO INCLUDE IN YOUR EDIBLE GARDEN
There are many vegetables you can grow in your edible garden in Colorado – but some grow better depending on the season that you are in: the cool season or the warm season.
VEGETABLES THAT GROW WELL IN THE COOL SEASON INCLUDE:
- Brussels sprouts
VEGETABLES THAT GROW WELL IN THE WARM SEASON INCLUDE:
HERBS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR EDIBLE GARDEN
There are many herbs that do well in Colorado’s climate. Many are even beneficial for attracting pollinators and warding off harmful insects. Herbs are great for beginners and easy to grow. Well-draining soil is a must for growing herbs.
HERBS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR COLORADO EDIBLE GARDEN:
- Garden sage
- French tarragon
- Roman chamomile
- Bronze fennel
- Lemon balm
You can grow fruit in Colorado!
There are many varieties of fruits that can be easily grown in Colorado. Tree fruits such as apples and plums are well known, but berries and bush fruits can be a prolific and sometimes easier choice as well.
Berry and Bush Fruits
There are many berries and bush fruits that will do well in Colorado’s Climate. See below for general tips and specific crop information:
Fruit trees can be grown across Colorado but are most commonly seen on the Western Slope. Whether you are growing fruit trees along the Front Range or in other regions of the state, the following information can help your fruit trees produce a better harvest:More Information
Video Series: Berries for the Colorado Garden
This series of videos covers basic growing recommendations, variety choices and tips on home fruit production. Watch an individual segment or the full webinar by clicking on the icon or title below:
Raspberries and Blackberries (15:20)
Currants, Gooseberries and Jostaberries (9:53)
Best Fruit Trees for Colorado Climate
Having your home garden filled with fruit trees is such a nice addition to any Colorado home. The big question though is, what are the best fruit trees for Colorado climate? Well, just about any deciduous fruit trees can be grown in Colorado (apples, pears, apricots, sweet and tart cherries, peaches, nectarines and plums).
All of these can handle minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit winter temperatures except peaches and nectarines, which get damaged starting at minus 12-14 degrees F.
Which Fruit Trees Grow in Colorado
- Apples – Connell Red, Haralson, Prairie Spy, Regent, Honeygold, State Fair, Sweet Sixteen, Keepsake
- Pears – Luscious
- Apricots – Goldcot, Chinese (small fruit size)
- Cherries – Gold (sweet), Montmorency (tart)
- Nectarines – Hardired, Mericrest
- Peaches – Autumn Star, Madison, Redskin
- Plums – Pipestone, Toka
Plant your fruit trees in a sheltered location that will have gradual temperature drops in the winter months and gradual spring warm ups. Colorado tends to have a shorter growing season, so trees with short to medium length growing seasons are best. Shocking temperature changes can be harmful to your trees.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Fruit Tree
- Tree hardiness
- Length of time of cold dormancy
- Season length requirements
- Disease susceptibility
Disease risks include fire blight on apples and pears along the Front Range due to warm moist conditions favoring infection in spring and early summer.
Fruit Tree Diseases to Be Aware Of
- Apple – fire blight, powdery mildew
- Pear – fire blight
- Peach – Cytospora canker, Coryneum blight, powdery mildew, peach rusty spot
- Cherry – Cherry Rasp Leaf virus (CRLV), Cytospora canker, X-Disease, powdery mildew, bacterial canker and Prunus Necrotic Ringspot virus (PNRSV)
Benefits of Growing Your Own Fruit Trees
- Freshness – Fruit tastes better and is healthier for you when it is fresh. Especially picked right off of your own tree!
- Quality – Commercially grown fruit is often selected for its higher yields and uniform appearance. Taste and quality is not normally the number one priority. When you grow your own, it can be priority over economic factors.
- Price – Enjoying fruit from your own tree will save you money; you can go to your backyard instead of having to go to the grocery store. Saving resources on transportation (shipping fruit from another country or state) is also a great environmental benefit and is also a benefit to your pocket book.
- Natural choice – Growing your own fruit ensures that your family does not consume any unwanted chemicals or pesticides. This is virtually the only way you really know what you are consuming.
A Colorado tree service company, such as Swingle, can also assist you in planting fruit trees to create a beautiful outdoor space. Get the freshest fruit possible by planting your very own fruit tree this year!
17 Edible Landscaping Ideas to Build Your Perfect Denver Urban Farm
If you are dreaming of your idyllic personalized urban farm in your backyard, here are a handful of ideas to get your ideas flowing and your shovels digging.
1. Cold Hardy Fruit Trees
Planting a well-producing fruit tree is like printing your own money. They are low-maintenance and produce year-after-year. But, it’s important to plant the right variety that is hardy enough to produce fruit in variable Front Range springs.
Growing fruit is very easy and does not require extensive work. However, it is critical that growers water regularly – even in the winter. If you’re willing to water monthly (or weekly when trees are first planted), you’re qualified to grow fruit.
Apples – Apples are one of the most sure-fire fruits to grow on the front range. The fruits are delicious and add unique fall flavor to any yard. The Front Range has a long and intriguing history of apples, with many rare and historical varieties preserved and offered in our selection.
Pears – Pears do relatively well in our area, possibly even better than apples. They are somewhat susceptible to early freezes, but the fruit are delicious. White blossoms appear in early spring, and the green foliage turns red-purple in the fall.
Sour Cherries – Cherries speak for themselves – they’re delicious and prolific. We offer both sweet and sour cherry trees. While sweet cherries are most popular in grocery stores and farmers’ markets, we actually suggest sour cherry trees. Like much in life that is desirable, sour cherries are hard to come by, hard to keep, and worth seeking out. On the Front Range, they also grow and produce much better than sweet cherry trees.
European Plums – European plums produce great here: high quality medium-sized round fruit with deep blue skin and sweet, juicy yellow flesh. They are great for eating right off of the tree, but also for jams and preserves.
Peaches and Apricots – Unfortunately, we don’t highly recommend peaches or apricots on this side of the Continental Divide. While the Western Slope produces juicy monsters, they only “do ok” here. Due to early frosts, you can only expect a good crop every 2-3 years. However, we’re happy to supply them for any diehard peach fans!
2. Colorado Party Plants
If you want to have truly “wild fun”, grow your own legal party garden. Instead of purchasing a pesticide-laden intoxicant, grow your vices yourself! Then, at least you know your Saturday night fun is healthy and homegrown. Here are some ideas….
Grapes – For wine or for eating, with seeds or without, thin or thick skinned, the possibilities and varieties are endless. Unlike fruit trees or bushes, grapes are actually a vining crop that should be suspended on a trellis or other structure to enable proper fruit growth (many people use hog panel or deck pergolas for their grapes). If you’re making wine, variety is everything. So do your research and keep them organic.
Hops – Organic local hops are currently a hot commodity as the Denver craft beer scene continues to grow. Most hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest, but we think local botanicals make the best local beer. Hops are an amazing plant. They can grow up to 25′ tall, weighing hundreds of pounds once mature. We suggest growing hops up the side of your house, providing enough height for the plant and creating a living hoppy wall that is sure to impress any beer snob neighbor of yours. Most common sure-fire varieties are Chinook and Cascade.
Tobacco – Most people agree cigarettes are disgusting, but not because of the tobacco. Tobacco is a beautiful plant. It grows prolifically, much like a tomato plant. The seeds are extremely small and a bit of a pain to start, but you won’t be disappointed once your’re growing beautiful heirloom tobacco in your backyard. Take that Big Tobacco.
3. Native and Adapted Fruit Bushes
Ever heard or currants, gooseberries, Nanking cherries, seaberries, or jostaberries?
If the answer is “no”, you’re not alone. But fruit bushes are amazing like fruit trees – they produce year after year, require very little maintenance, and produce an abundance of delicious sweet fruit.
They’re also flowering and beautiful at certain times of year, making your backyard urban farm even more appealing.
Many of these fruit bushes grow amazing in Colorado. They also taste superior and contain more nutrition than the more classic fruit from the grocery store. To get the best, most adapted varieties, we suggest checking out our friends at Colorado Food Forest, who sell a number of adapted varieties.
4. Mushrooms on Logs
The best Denver Urban Farm we’ve ever seen was not just growing plants, but fungi! Mushrooms are simple and amazing to grow.
We suggest starting with shitake or oyster mushrooms – they are much easier than many other varieties. Here’s how…
- Grab a log (kind of log depends on the variety of mushroom you want to grow). Fresh cottonwood logs are usually the easiest to find in Denver and work pretty well. Logs should be cut to lengths of 3–4 feet, and are best if they do not exceed approximately 8 inches in diameter.
- Buy mushroom inoculant plugs. Most people buy from Fungi Perfecti, the most well-known business for homegrown mushroom spores.
- Drill holes in the log and hammer the plugs into the log
- Keep the logs moist and shaded for several months until the mushrooms “fruit”
5. Perennial Herbs
We’re a fan of “lazy gardening”, which means perennials win every time. Instead of having to re-plant every year, consider planting perennial herbs that come back with a vengeance year after year. Here are some great one’s for your personal Denver Urban Farm:
- Fennel (for seed)
6. And Annual Herbs Close to the House
While perennials are easier, nothing holds a candle to the taste (and smell) of fresh basil, cilantro, parsley, and dill. These herbs aren’t going to survive the Colorado winter, so must be planted each spring.
We suggest planting annual herbs in pots or a raised bed as close to your kitchen as possible.
The Urban Farm Company rule of thumb is: “you want to place your herb garden in a location where you can walk outside in your underwear every morning to grab a handful of herbs.”
These herbs (except cilantro) should be transplanted to maximize your harvest.
7. Annual Vegetables in Raised Garden Beds
Duh. This is the bread and butter of the Urban Farm Company. If you need inspiration or a reminder of what veggies you can grow in raised beds in Colorado, check out our Veggie Menu.
Be sure to check out 24 Tips to Growing Food in Raised Garden Beds. It’s the juiciest information we have about gardening in raised beds.
Why raised beds? Raised garden beds are a great option for gardeners in Colorado because they help control these five variables that are critical to success.
There are many advantages to raised beds:
- Allow you to fill gardens with an ideal soil mix without having to deal with amending the clayey or rocky existing soil.
- Allow you to use easy spacing methods for planting. I suggest a square foot method for easy spacing.
- Easier to attach trellises, drip irrigation, and season extension.
- Less bending and stepping on soil.
- Warm up faster in the spring.
- Look better in landscapes.
Go take a look at your side yard, then imagine these raised garden beds instead….want some? Get a quote from us.
8. Chickens (Definitely)
Endless eggs. Organic, humane, and pasture-raised. Need we say more?
Ok we will anyway…
Fresh eggs make the best friends at Sunday brunch, their manure fertilizes your yard and chickens also eat your kitchen scraps so you don’t need a compost pile (so you can skip #13 below).
Chickens don’t take up a lot of space, are kid-friendly, and lay almost an egg per day.
In 1918, Uncle Sam wanted all American’s to have a backyard chicken coop. Here’s the cool ad they posted telling people to “coop up”.
We suggest investing in a high-quality coop. One that will keep your chickens warm during the winter (chickens hate cold drafts), and also prevent predators from creating a slaughterhouse in your backyard. Nothing will turn you off from chickens faster than seeing them killed by a coyote or raccoon.
To house six to twelve eggs, that means building your own coop, or shelling out $600-$1,200 for a carpenter or professional to build one for you.
By the way, it’s illegal to have more than six hens, so this is your chance to practice the best form of Denver urban farming “civil disobedience”.
9. Bees (Maybe)
Bees are also amazing “pets”, but require a bit more expertise than chickens. If you’re willing to commit some time to understanding their lifecycle and needs, then you’ll learn how magical they are as a species.
But also prepare yourself for potential heartbreak. Looks can be deceiving and “perfectly healthy” hives can disappear in a season as part of the larger issues with bees. It’s also sometimes difficult to find the actual bees (as a swarm or mail-ordered) to populate your hive.
If you do decide to get bees, be sure to connect with the Colorado State Beekeepers Association. Their member groups offer experienced beekeepers with extensive experience, opinions, and advice for beginners. Education and outreach is a big part of their mission and you can find lots of information on their site for classes and other educational resources.