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Spring is almost here and there’s no time to waste if you’re thinking about putting your green thumb to work.

Like many locations, successful gardening in Colorado comes with a set of unique challenges. But fear not. We’ve compiled some tips to help you make your garden a winner.

Luan Akin, Garden Ambassador for Centennial’s Tagawa Gardens, shares her do’s and don’ts in a video series for CSU Extension. According to Akin, before you think about plants, you should start with your soil. The soil here, she said, could use some help. Akin recommends composting.

Compost is made up of decayed organic matter. It can help aerate thick clay soil or retain moisture in sandy soil. She says you should mix the compost into your existing soil instead of layering it.

So, what grows well here in the spring? 

According to a Colorado State University Extension’s Garden Notes guide to vegetable planting, cool weather is good for hardy veggies like broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, onions, lettuce, peas, radish, spinach, leeks and turnips. All of these should do well once daytime low temperatures are consistently around 40 degrees. 

Semi-hardy vegetables like beets, carrots, cauliflower, parsley, parsnips, potatoes and Swiss chard should also do well with daytime lows around 40 degrees.

Minimum germination temperatures for most hardy and semi-hardy plants run between 35 and 40 degrees. Optimal germination temps are a warmer, 70-80 degrees, for those who like to start their plants indoors before transferring them to the garden. Most will take from three to 10 days to germinate. Harvest times vary with some like beets, lettuce and green onions taking as little as 60 days to grow. You won’t however, be picking those spuds for at least 125 days.

The CSU Garden Notes also recommend measuring germination temperature by checking the temperature of soil at 8 a.m., four inches deep. For beans, check the temperature of the soil six inches deep, also at 8 a.m. CSU also recommend starting your spring Cole crops (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts) from transplants, since they tend to do better with warmer germination temperatures. For the best quality Cole veggies, think about a second planting or direct-seeding in early July here on the Front Range.

Cool season crops like a cool soil, so Garden Notes recommends a mulch of lawn clippings and newspapers to keep the soil cool, prevent weed germination and conserving water.