As their name indicates, this group of vegetables prefers warm weather to develop properly. How warm? For most of the plants listed below--it's safe to plant when the nights consistently stay at 50 degrees. For some in Colorado Springs, that may be as early as mid-May. At higher elevations, that might mean June 1!
You can fool plants and get a jump on the season by using plant protectors (such as Wall O Waters) that will help warm the soil and air around your plants. It's especially important to acclimate (harden off) these plants prior to planting. Remember, they've lived in the nice warm protected greenhouse for the first 6-8 weeks of their lives. You'll need to get them used to the real world realities of their new home!
Tips for Success: Our growing season is relatively short. To give you the best chance for a healthy harvest, we offer short-season vegetable varieties. For more information about when to plant, see Phelan Gardens vegetable planting guideline. Hail is a reality in our area. We offer hail cloth to help protect your plants from unexpected damage.
Rich loose soil is also a must for successful vegetable gardens. Amend each year with bagged compost OR make your own. See our guide for starting your own compost pile.
Give the vegetables below a spot that receives sun for at least 8 hours, consistent water, fertilizer and warm soil, and you will be on your way to fresh vegetables from your own backyard.
Imperial Star is a globe artichoke that has been bred to produce artichokes during the first season. It's hardy to zone 7 so treat it as an annual in Colorado. Give it a sunny spot with room to grow (plants can get 3-4 feet high and wide) Bears nearly spineless buds 3"-4" in size.
Imperial Star--95 days to harvest
We offer both bush and pole types. Bush beans typically produce quicker than pole beans but for shorter periods of time. You'll need to plant a new crop every 2 weeks for bush types to produce throughout the season. Pole beans will take longer to produce but once they begin, will continue all season. Whichever you choose, try to water at the base of the plants, leaving the leaves dry. This helps prevent the spread of disease.
Blue Lake Pole--5'-6' vines, sweet fiberless 6" beans, wonderful for canning (60 days)
Kentucky Blue: 6" green pole bean, vigorous vine. (58 days)
Goldmine Bush--A yellow wax bean. 15"-20" tall, 6" sweet yellow beans, (55 days)
The biggest trick to growing corn is that you need to grow enough plants for proper wind pollination. To achieve this, plant in 'blocks' with a minimum of 4 rows of a single variety of corn. In a typical home gardening setting, cross pollination will occur if you plant two different kinds of corn in the same yard. Apply a fertilizer (with numbers close to 9-5-3) at time of planting, when you have 10" plants, and again when tassels form.
Silver Queen: Hybrid sweet white corn produces 8"-9" ears. 90 days
Sweet Perfection: NEW! Yellow sweet corn with slightly earlier development. 77 days.
Cucumbers like it ESPECIALLY warm. Do not plant until at least a WEEK AFTER final frost. Provide ample water but make sure your soil is well drained. Drought will cause deformed fruit. It is very important to acclimate your cucumber starts to Colorado wind prior to planting. While your plants are young, you might even want to place a plant protector around them (Wall O Water) for additional protection and warmth. Cucumbers are like peas in that you need to harvest the fruit to get them to keep producing. If you are short on space, try a bush type which will be a more compact vine (actual fruit can be pickle size or regular slicers).
Because of our short growing season, eggplant is hard to grow via seed. So, we offer plant starts for your garden. Warm temps and well-drained soil will help you grow this crop. You can remove bitterness from Italian type eggplant by soaking it in salt water prior to cooking.
Black Beauty: large Italian type, up to 12 per plant (80 days)
Ichiban/Ping Tung Long: Oriental types with long, slender eggplants. High yielding. (60 days)
Do you prefer sweet or hot? Bells or bananas? We've got a lot of choices for you. One thing they've all got in common is that peppers MUST have warm temperatures to produce. So, don't be in a rush to get these in the ground--follow our 50 degree night rule above or use plant protectors to warm the soil. You can keep these protectors on while the plants are young. Fertilize at planting time and again mid-season. Keep soil consistently moist. If you are a beginner, the smaller fruited peppers are reliable producers in our short season (ex. banana etc.).
Anaheim Mildly hot, 76 days
NuMex Big Jim Vigorous Anaheim type with medium heat, and 9" long peppers. 77 days
Paprika Spicy, Can be eaten fresh or dried and ground up to produce the spice, 80 days
Poblano Mild when green, hotter when ripens to red, 65 days
Serrano Very hot, 85 days
Early Hot (hot, 75 days) mild when green, hotter when red
Fooled You (mild, 65 days) great flavor with mild heat, mild, prolific Jalapeno. Makes great salsa and poppers!
Chipotle Small, thick walled jalapeno-type pepper with medium heat. Can be smoked and dried to get that famous flavor. (65 days)
Carmen All America Selections winner. Italian Bulls Horn type, 2½ x 6" red, sweet for salad or roasted, midsize plant. 70 days
Giant Marconi An Italian sweet pepper. All America Selections winner for smoky-sweet flavor and early yields of 8" long x 3" wide peppers.
Sweet Banana Think banana peppers such as for sandwiches. Heavy yields of 2"x 8" peppers. Yellow ripens to red. 65 days.
Sweet Cherry 1½" cherry type, green to red, medium thick skin, pickle or snack. 75 days
Mexibell Small but high-yielding, hybrid bell. Can be grown green to red. All-America Selections winner. 75 days.
Big Green A standard sized green bell pepper with high yields. 75 days.
Golden Wonder Small 3" sweet type that begins green and matures to yellow and then orange. 85 days.
Purple Beauty Crisp, sweet PURPLE bell peppers. 70 days.
HOT Pepper Varieties:
Cayenne Long Thin: very hot green/red, thin walled peppers. 70 days.
Habanero: HOT! HOT! HOT!. 95 days
Kung Pao: A spicy staple in Asian cooking. Heavy yielding. 85 days
Pumpkins need warm and loose soil and consistent moisture. Fertilize when vines begin to run and again at blossom set. Give each plant ample space as vines can grow quite large (a minimum of 3 feet--4-5 ft is better). We offer miniature, standard, and giant pumpkin varieties.
Cinderella's Carriage: Heirloom look in this new hybrid pumpkin variety. Orange, deeply ridged with a 'flattened' appearance. Up to 25 lbs. Decorative but also sweet as a pie pumpkin. Pale flesh has a nutty flavor. (105 days).
Jarrahdale: An heirloom variety with unique blue-gray deeply lobed skin. (100 days)
Knucklehead: Bumpy, orange, warted type pumpkin produces 12-16 lb fruit. Approx. 2 pumpkins per vine. Great size for carving. (105 days)
Lumina: Pure white, great for carving, flattened globe shape, 10-15 lbs. (95 days)
Small Sugar Pie: 5-6 lbs, Great pie pumpkin with stringless sweet flesh. (100 days)
Spooktacular: 3-4 lbs, early to ripen. Good pie pumpkin that is approx. 6" wide. 85 days.
Warty Goblin: Bright orange pumpkin that is covered in green warts. (90 days)
Jack-Be-Little: Big vine, little pumpkin. Multiple mini-pumpkins that are fun for decorating. Flattened with ribbing (very much like a mini-Cinderella with lighter skin
If you are new to gardening, try planting summer squash--you'll have so much you'll be giving them away! Give them lots of space (about 3 square feet per plant). Fertilize at blossom set and provide consistent moisture during the growing season. Pick fruit when it is young and tender.
Golden Summer Crookneck: Mild flavor pick when squash is 5"-6" long (60 days)
Peter Pan: A small scalloped, patty pan type with meaty, light green skinned squash. Vines are vigorous producers but remain more compact than most squash plants. All-America Selections winner (50 days)
Black Beauty: Deep glossy green, 12" cylinder, tender rind, all purpose, bush type for smaller gardens (50 days)
Eight Ball Zucchini: Small, round zucchini that is great for stuffing or slicing. Nutty, buttery flavor. Vigorous vines produce in about 55 days.
Winter squash takes longer to develop than summer squash but is great for storing for later use. These types are typically harvested when the rind is so hard you can't cut it with your fingernail.
Butternut Canesi: One of the earliest Butternut types. 7-8" tan fruit (85 days)
Spaghetti: Oblong fruit 8-10" long, ripens yellow, good keeper (110 days)
Table Ace (Acorn type) Compact 3' vines produce 5" squash (80 days)
These are very easy to grow here. Provide loose soil and a sunny spot and you are well on your way. Treat them as you would tomatoes (they are related). Provide consistent moisture and stake them. Firm fruit about the size of a cherry tomato will be ready when the papery husks that surround them turn brown and break open.
Verde: Green fruit inside tan husk for green salsa, globe, 2 oz, indeterminate (70 days)
Purple: Purple fruit for alluring salsa, globe, 2 oz, indeterminate (70 days)
We offer both compact determinate vines (great space savers for those of you who like to plant in containers) and traditional indeterminate vines. You'll need a support for these larger types. If you are a beginner, cherry tomatoes are the easiest to grow here.
Tomatoes are arguably the most popular vegetable garden plant. In addition to bearing fruit, they also produce tons of questions each season. View answers to some of the most common tomato questions.
We still employ growing techniques, developed by Don Phelan, to bring you the biggest, baddest tomato starts around.
Hybrid Varieties: Large Size Tomatoes
Better Boy: Bright red, juicy & meaty. 8-10 oz. Stocky plant, highly disease resistant. Indeterminate. 75 days.
Big Beef: All America Selections winner. 12 oz. Red, juicy, high quality beefsteak. Crack and highly disease resistant. Vigorous plant. Indeterminate. 72 days.
Celebrity: All America Selections winner. One of the most popular home garden types. Red & highly disease resistant. 8 oz. Determinate. 72 days.
Chef's Choice Green: Foodies unite for this green tomato with yellow striping. 9-10 oz. Citrus type flavor. Beefsteak type. All-America Selections winner. Indeterminate. 90 days.
Chef's Choice Orange: Developed from heirloom 'Amana Orange'. Low acid, sweet, beefsteak type that retains color even when cooked. 9-12 oz. All-America Selections winner. Indeterminate. 75 days.
Chef's Choice Pink: 12 oz sweet, pink beefsteak. Prolific potato leaf type with good disease resistance. All-America Selections winner. Indeterminate. 110 days.
Champion II: Good yields of red 8-9 oz meaty and flavorful medium-sized tomatoes. Disease resistant. Determinate. 70 days.
Early Girl: Very popular because it develops so quickly! 4-6 oz. Disease resistant. Indeterminate. 52 days.
Fantastic: A consistent performer in all kinds of seasons. Deep red, meaty flesh. Crack resistant. Medium-sized 3-5" tomatoes. Indeterminate. 85 days.
Lemon Boy: Lemon turning gold, prolific, juicy, wonderful flavor. 7oz. Indeterminate. 72 days.
Patio: Very compact plants produce medium sized, flavorful tomatoes. A good choice for containers. Determinate. 70 days.
Roma Viva Italia: Paste-type tomatoes that are also wonderful for sauce and salsa. Thicker skin holds up well. Prolific. 3oz. Determinate. 80 Days.
Ildi: Yellow grape tomatoes are extra early, firm and sweet. High yielding...potential for over 650 fruits per plant! Clings to vine even after vine is harvested and hung. Indeterminate. 55 days.
Italian Ice: 1" Ivory cherry with melt in your mouth taste. 65 days.
Juliet: All America Selections winner. Red clustered mini-plum type. 1 oz fruit is high yielding, crack resistant with a wonderful bright acidic flavor. Indeterminate. 60 days.
Sun Gold: Sweet golden fruit grows in clusters. Indeterminate. 65 days.
Sweet Baby Girl: 1" dark red, marvelous sweet flavor, long clusters, resists cracking, high yield. Indeterminate. 65 days.
Supersweet 100: Cherry with many branched clusters of 1" fruit. High yielding. Indeterminate. 65 days.
Sweet Pea: These are teeny tiny-- at only 1/2" they are pea-sized tomatoes. You will get loads of them! Very sweet. Fun in salads. Indeterminate. 75 days.
Tumbler: Sweet bright red cherry tomatoes. Extra early producer. Habit works well in a large container or hanging basket. Determinate. 50 days.
Heirloom tomatoes are seeing renewed popularity. They are open-pollinated and will remain true to type should you want to save seeds. Although heirlooms are not always as disease resistant as modern hybrids, some people swear by the unique taste each provides. There is such a wide range of colors and shapes of heirlooms that they are a fun garden veggie to explore.
Amish Paste: Paste type, red, oblong oxheart/plum shape, 3 x 5", 8+ oz, very sweet, Indeterminate. 80 days.
Black Cherry: clusters of perfectly round 1" true cherry tomatoes that are deep red with a blackish hue. The flavor is complex, rich, juicy and sweet. Indeterminate. 65 days.
Black Krim: a brown/red tomato originally from Russia. Quick to ripen and heavy producer. Juicy, sweet, 8 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 80 days.
Brandywine: Large 20 oz fruit, mild non-acidic tastes. Nematode resistant. Indeterminate. 85 days.
Cherokee Purple: Burgundy fruit, large 12 oz, unique and tasty. 80 days
Manyel: Native American heirloom tomato. Clear yellow, 6 oz, very juicy and mild. Indeterminate. 75 days.
Mortgage Lifter: Large 20 oz, flattened pink, very meaty with few seeds. Indeterminate. 82 days.
Siberian: Red oval 2 oz fruit on a compact plant (good for patio) Very early heavy crop. Determinate. 58 days.
Yellow Pear: Paste type 2" flavorful yellow tomatoes with a pear shape. Indeterminate. 75 days.