It is that time of year: The weather is warming and the sun is shining, and it is just about time to start planting your vegetable garden for the year.
There are dozens of vegetables from which to choose when you start to create your garden. For gardeners who want plants that will thrive in the heat of summer or that will grow in the summer to produce an abundant fall crop, there are also many delicious varieties from which to choose.
To help you narrow down your choices, here is a list of the 15 vegetables that thrive the most in the heat of summer. Consider one or more of these varieties for a healthy and happy summer garden.
Sweet potatoes are a sweeter orange version of the traditional potato. These hardy plants grow on spreading vines and love the heat and humidity.
If you choose to plant sweet potatoes, wait until about a month after the last frost in order to give the weather and the soil a chance to warm up to the sweet potato’s preferred temperature. Plant them in well-drained soil that you have enriched with materials like compost or fertilizer and consider planting them near their favorite companion plants, like thyme or parsnips.
Your sweet potatoes should thrive in the heat and be ready for harvest in about 90 days. They do not require a lot of attention in order to thrive as long as they receive sufficient water.
Just make sure not to plant them near any other viney plants, since they need room for their own vines to grow and can easily become stifled if they have to share space with other spreading vines.
There are many types of beans you can choose for your garden. Almost any variety will thrive in the summer heat and produce an abundant crop in the late summer or early fall. Examples of the kinds of beans you can plant in your summer garden include the following:
- Fava Beans
- Runner Beans
- Green Beans
- Yard Long Beans
- Pole Beans
- Bush Beans
- Wax Beans
- Purple Podded Beans
- Borlotti Beans
Beans generally grow best when staked upright and planted in soil that is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. They mature quickly, in 40-60 days, allowing you to enjoy delicious additions to your fall dishes even when you plant the beans in the summer.
Beans make a good addition to the garden because they replenish the nitrogen in the soil. They also make good neighbors to broccoli, carrots, and peas.
Cucumbers are the perfect vegetable for your garden if you want to enjoy a summer harvest of a crisp, crunchy salad addition. Cucumbers in all of their forms do best in full sun and enriched soil (use compost or fertilizers).
In addition, they do well if you give them a trellis to climb. Not only will you have more room in your garden, but you will also reduce the chances that your cucumbers will develop leaf spots.
Cucumbers do best when they are planted with corn, though you can also plant them with beans and peas. When they are grown correctly, cucumbers can produce a large harvest all summer long. Depending upon the variety of cucumber that you grow, you can expect to enjoy the fruits of your labor within 50-75 days after planting.
Tomatoes are one of the easiest and most popular garden vegetables to grow. Their sweet, juicy fruit and versatility make them an ideal addition to many dishes, while their hardiness and simplicity make them very easy for even beginning gardeners to grow.
Another reason to embrace tomatoes as part of your garden is the fact that they make a great summer vegetable. They do best when planted in June, during the warm weather, and allowed to grow throughout the summer. Tomatoes need up to 80 days to fully mature, and love the sun. They prefer to soak up 6-8 hours of full sun every day.
Tomatoes come in many varieties, which means you can grow large, hearty versions like beefsteak tomatoes, or smaller, daintier cherry tomatoes depending upon your preferences and the space you have in your garden.
If you want your tomatoes to maximize their tomato production, consider planting them along with marigolds. Most varieties need to be staked or allowed to grow on cages in order to help the plant support the weight of its leaves and fruit.
Some varieties of peas need to be planted in the early spring and prefer the cooler weather that comes with that earlier time of the year. Southern peas, however, prefer warm weather and make a great vegetable to plant in the summer.
Southern peas are less familiar than more traditional forms of peas. Also known as cowpeas, and coming in the form of black eyed peas or crowder peas, they can be eaten in much the same way as other kinds of peas: Consumed in the shell like snap peas or shelled and added to dishes.
Southern peas should be planted about a month after the last frost (about the same time that you plant your sweet potatoes). Keep their soil moist and water at the base to protect the fragile leaves. You can expect to enjoy the fruits of your labor in 60-70 days. They grow best when paired with strawberries, but do not grow well alongside onions or garlic.
Corn is a quintessential summer vegetable. Corn on the cob is a cookout staple, and corn salads can make for a delicious and refreshing side dish. If you want to enjoy corn in your own garden, try to plant it about 3 weeks after the last frost, when the soil temperature reaches about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Sweet corn should mature between 60 and 95 days after planting.
Corn’s roots do not go deep into the soil, despite the fact that the plants grow tall. As a result, you must keep the soil moist to ensure that the roots always have access to water. You should also give corn plants enough room to grow, so place seeds about one foot apart from each other. Corn grows best when planted alongside squash and beans.
Corn is particularly susceptible to earworms, which eat the tip of the corn. Keep them away by planting herbs and annual flowering plants among your corn rows to encourage the presence of wasps and other insects that prevent earworm infestations. Applying certain pesticides to the tip of the corn after they develop their silk on the top can also help to kill any earworm infestations.
Eggplant might not be the first vegetable to come to mind when you think about planting a garden. However, eggplant is a delicious vegetable that loves the heat of summer and will produce prolifically if grown correctly.
Plant eggplant about 3 weeks after the last frost. It will still mature quickly enough for you to enjoy during the summer. Its maturation period is between 60 and 80 days. In order to ensure maximum production of its fruit, keep the roots moist with consistent watering and cool with the application of mulch.
Eggplants are susceptible to flea beetle infestations. In order to prevent these beetles from destroying your crop, apply an insecticide at the first sign of trouble (usually pinholes in the leaves of the plants).
Peppers come in many varieties, from sweet bell peppers to spicy hot peppers. Whatever variety you choose, you can be sure that it will thrive in the heat of summer, as long as you give it the attention it requires.
The primary thing that peppers need is consistent deep watering at the soil. Avoid getting water on the leaves, because the plant can develop disease from wet leaves. In addition, make sure to plant where it will get full sun, and plant alongside vegetables like carrots and squash.
If you want to ensure a harvest of peppers throughout the summer, plant both earlier in the spring and through the month of June. By staggering your planting in this manner, you will have producing pepper plants until the fall.
There are a variety of classic southern greens that thrive in the heat and make the perfect vegetable to plant during the summer. Examples of these greens include Okra and Mizuna. These plants enjoy full sun and can be planted in the spring.
If you want to enjoy a harvest of greens all summer long, plant crops of greens every 3 weeks. You can even plant them successfully throughout the summer in order to enjoy a fall harvest of greens.
Greens do best when harvested every other day. They also grow best if they are planted near beans or beetroot. They are compact enough to be grown in containers, but you can also plant them in larger garden beds alongside your other vegetables.
Like one of its sister plants, corn, squash loves the heat and does well as a vegetable you plant in the summer. There is a huge variety of squash from which to choose: Butternut squash, summer squash, and pumpkins are just a few examples.
In order to get the most out of your squash plants, you will need to protect your plants against vine borer infestations. These creatures are best dealt with by making it difficult for them to access the plants.
That means waiting until June or July and planting seedlings rather than starting your seeds outside earlier in the year. In addition, using row covers until the plants begin to bloom can keep unwelcome pests from eating your squash plants.
Squash grows best in soil that drains well. You will also want to plant your squash where they will receive full sun for most of the day. Try to water your plants deeply on a regular schedule, and harvest their fruits consistently in order to encourage ongoing production of fruit. Plant them alongside corn or cucumbers for healthier, more productive plants.
This crunchy orange salad fixing is a sweet and delightful part of any summer garden. They are generally ready for harvest within 65 days of planting. Plant them quite early in the growing season, up to two weeks before the last frost date. This hardy root vegetable will be able to withstand the cold temperatures and give you a bountiful harvest by the time the weather becomes hot.
You can also plant carrots during the summer if you want to enjoy a harvest in the fall or early winter. Just make sure to plant them about 10 or 12 weeks before your average first frost date. Carrots have many good companion plants, including tomatoes, chives, rosemary, onion, and garlic.
Malabar spinach is a tasty plant that is not related to the spinach but that whose leaves can used in salad like spinach. This plant grows vines and does well when it can be grown on a trellis or similar structure.
In order to enjoy maximum success growing Malabar spinach, you want to plant it in areas where the summers are consistently around 90 degrees. You should also plant it late enough to avoid frost. It does best when planted beside beans.
Amaranth may not sound familiar to you, but it is a perfect summer vegetable with a variety of uses. Its leaves can be harvested and used like a lettuce in salads and other dishes. You can also use its grain in a variety of dishes, including as a breakfast cereal.
Amaranth is a good vegetable to plant in summer because it thrives in warm weather and prefers to grow in full sun. Just make sure to plant it in well-drained soil and keep its roots moist.
The right time to harvest amaranth is about 90 days after planting. The seeds will begin to fall off the tassel, and you may see birds showing an interest in the plant. Amaranth does best when planted alongside other vegetables like eggplant or corn.
Another hidden gem of the garden, sorrels love to grow in the cooler weather of the early spring and mature in the summer. A tasty summer food, their bright leaves make a nice addition to salads, soups, and other dishes. They also happen to be very beautiful plants, making them an attractive part of your garden as well as a delicious part of your summer meals.
Sorrels do best planted beside strawberries and other vegetables. You can plant them up to 3 weeks before your average last frost date. They like to grow in full sun. In certain parts of the country, they will come back every year to decorate your garden and adorn your summer dishes with flavor.
Shallots look a little bit like small onions and are in the same family as that vegetable (alliums). However, they have a somewhat different, and gentler, flavor. They not only make a delicious addition to your meals, it also makes a great vegetable to plant in the summer.
Plant shallots as a bulb in the fall for a summer harvest. Harvest shallots once the tops start to shrivel up and enjoy them as part of your summer dishes for the rest of the season.
Summer vegetables are delicious and fun to grow. If you want to enjoy them, consider planting some of the 15 vegetables discussed above. They can enhance your garden and brighten up your summer with their rich flavors and versatile uses.