Growing delicious summer vegetables can be easy if you know what you’re dealing with. Here are a few of our favorites, along with some growing tips to get you started and improve your harvest.
Planting In Spring
Plant these warm-season vegetables in spring, after threat of frost is past. Some grow best from seed, others from transplants. Many areas feature locally-adapted varieties that will grow better in your area. Your local nursery or local Cooperative Extension System office can offer advice on the right type of plants, as well as average frost dates in your area.
The following need 6-16 weeks of warm weather to mature, depending on the vegetable.
- Snap Bean
- Lima Bean
- Southern Pea
- Sweet Potato
- Tomato – there are a seemingly endless variety of Tomatoes, with different sizes, colors and tastes. They can be grown in the garden, in containers or just about anywhere. Growing Tomatoes (url: TBD) will help you get started and includes some of our favorite types.
- Melon – these include Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Muskmelon and Watermelon. Just make sure you have the proper amount of space!
- Pepper – Bell Peppers come in a wide variety of colors, or try Anaheim, Jalapeno, Cayenne and more. All peppers love warm sunshine, but in general, hotter varieties of peppers need a longer growing season.
- Pumpkin – the type you grow should be determined by how you’ll use it – for eating, carving or decorating.
- Summer Squash – these include varieties of Zucchini, Patty Pan (Scallop) Squash, Smooth-Skinned Yellow Squash, Crookneck, Straightneck and more. Harvested in summer, their softer skin is edible, but they have a shorter shelf life compared to Winter Squash.
- Winter Squash – Varieties like Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Hubbard and others can take up to 4 months or longer to mature. Harvest when skins harden, usually in September or October.
Warm-season summer vegetables have deeper root systems than their cool-season cousins. But watering correctly is still the key to a healthy harvest. Some plants can require daily watering, especially in containers. Mulch will help prevent water loss.
Most vegetables will grow better with an occasional feeding.
Prolonging Summer Vegetables For A Fall Harvest
Missed out on the spring planting window? Where the growing season is long enough (at least 200 days), many summer vegetables can still be planted in midsummer for a fall harvest. To increase your chances for success when planting vegetables during the summer heat, pay special attention to watering. In hot weather, newly-planted seeds and seedlings may need to be watered more than once a day. Make sure plants are heavily mulched. When planting nursery transplants, push a wooden shingle into the ground on the west side of the plant so it's shaded during the hottest part of the day.
Midsummer is peak season for many hungry insects. Be sure to protect tender young plants – they can devastate your crop.
From seed, you may plant bush beans, corn, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash and even melons. From transplants, try eggplant, peppers and tomatoes. If you're worried your growing season is not quite long enough, plant early-maturing varieties.