13 Best Vegetables to Plant in Summer
Summer is the traditional season to grow a thriving garden. However, not all plants can handle the heat of summer. If you want to make sure your garden actually produces, be sure to choose some of these best vegetables to plant in summer.
Warm-Season vs. Cool-Season Crops
Vegetables are typically designated as warm-season or cool-season crops, depending on what type of weather they need for best growth.
Warm-season vegetables require high temperatures and warm soil to grow and produce fruit. Additionally, frosts and cool temperatures will kill warm-season vegetables.
Cool-season vegetables prefer lower temperatures and can handle short periods of frost. In hot weather, their fruits can become bitter and they often turn to seed before they produce any edible parts. You can sometimes grow cool-season vegetables in the summer if you keep them in the shade.
This is why it’s important to make sure you’re planting the right vegetables in the right season. If you’re getting your garden ready, choose some of these best vegetables to plant in summer.
Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables to grow in the summer. This warm-weather crop thrives in high temperatures, so you shouldn’t plant it until at least 3 weeks after your last frost.
Even though eggplants love the heat, their roots need to stay cool and moist. So be sure to add mulch around the plant to help the root system retain as much moisture as possible.
If your garden is anything like mine and you end up with a ton of eggplants, be sure to check out this post that has over 85 delicious and easy-to-make eggplant recipes!
2. Sweet Potato
Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes love warm soil and warm weather. They’re sensitive to the cold, so make sure you plant them about a month after your last frost date.
Once the weather is nice and hot, sweet potatoes will grow quickly and easily, and you can often harvest them in just 90 days.
3. Green Beans
Not only are green beans one of the best vegetables to plant in summer, but they’re also one of the best vegetables for a children’s garden. That’s because they’re easy to grow and very productive.
You can choose bush beans for a quick crop that produces early, or you can go with pole beans for a long season of steady production. Keep in mind that while bush varieties can usually support themselves, pole varieties will need some type of trellis or pole to climb.
Nearly all types of peppers enjoy growing in the heat of summer. If you like your peppers spicy, jalapeno chile peppers are always a good option. If you prefer to grow something that the entire family will enjoy, you can’t go wrong with sweet peppers.
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Okra is one of the best vegetables to plant in summer because it’s incredibly adaptable. It loves the heat and can handle dry conditions. The plant also produces a beautiful flower that attracts pollinators.
Make sure you harvest okra regularly, because over-mature pods will cause the plant to stop producing.
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There are two basic types of squash: summer squash and winter squash. While you might think you can only grow summer squash in the summer, both types can actually handle the heat.
Summer squash (such as zucchini and yellow squash) taste best when the fruit is small and tender. Winter squash (like acorn squash, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash) form hard shells. They’re harvested in the fall, and you can store them for winter use.
While it’s not a vegetable, sunflowers are still a great option for your summer garden. One of the best things about sunflowers is that you can pretty much plant the seeds and walk away. They’re not fussy about their soil, and they can handle drought conditions.
They also produce edible seeds that you can either enjoy yourself or save to put in your bird feeders during the winter.
While most spinach is a cool-weather crop, this spinach variety is actually heat tolerant. You can pick it right off the plant to enjoy it in your salads and cooked dishes.
Even better, spinach is one of the best fast growing vegetables for a quick harvest since it can reach maturity in as little as 28 days.
The cucumber is a classic summer plant that’s very productive as long as its soil stays moist. Like a lot of other plants, you should harvest it frequently to keep it producing.
When you’re deciding what type of cucumber to grow in your summer garden, you have a variety of choices. Pickling cucumbers have stronger and drier skins that make them better at absorbing pickle brine. Slicing cucumbers have thinner and less bitter skins that make them good for eating straight off the vine (after washing them, of course).
Consider growing your cucumbers on a trellis to provide good air circulation, help keep leaf spots at bay, and make them easier to harvest.
A summer garden just isn’t complete without some tomatoes. If you’re looking for one of the best vegetables to plant in summer that’s also great for growing in a container garden, choose tomatoes. They’re easy to grow and very prolific.
Keep in mind that tomatoes generally require a lot of sun and plenty of warmth, so it’s a good idea to plant them as soon as warm weather arrives. You’ll also want to make sure you have a tomato cage to give the plant some support when its branches are full of fruit.
Corn is another one of those classic summer crops. It pollinates itself using the wind, so it’s best to plant it in a series of parallel rows. It’s also a shallow-rooted plant, so you’ll need to water it regularly.
Corn grows great with green beans and squash for a companion planting trio that’s commonly referred to as the “three sisters.”
To plant a three sisters garden, start with the corn first. When the corn stalk is about 6 inches tall, plant the green bean seeds evenly spaced around the stalk. About a week later, plant the squash seeds evenly spaced around the perimeter of the corn and green beans.
The corn provides support for the green beans to grow. The green beans pull nitrogen from the air and into the soil to help all three plants grow. And the large leaves of the squash provide shade, which helps keep the soil cool, moist, and free of weeds. The prickly squash leaves also deter pests from eating the fruit.
Melons thrive in warm weather and can provide an abundant crop throughout the summer. Did you know that what we call cantaloupes are actually muskmelons? True cantaloupes come from Europe and have a hard shell.
Whether you call it a cantaloupe or muskmelon, this plant is a popular choice for the summer garden because it’s easy to grow and ripens incredibly fast. Keep in mind that the plant likes full sun. It’s also sensitive to drought, so it will need plenty of water.
Another good melon option to consider is honeydew, which has smooth skin, green flesh, and an unbelievably sweet flavor.
Watermelon is another popular melon that’s one of the best plants for your summer garden. Like other melon varieties, you’ll need to give the vines of your watermelon plant room to run.
They also require a lot of water until they begin to bear fruit. However, the red flesh is so sweet and juicy, you’ll be glad you decided to grow some in your garden.
Top Vegetables to Plant in Summer
When the sun starts beating down and the temperatures begin to climb, you can make sure your garden continues to thrive and produce when you choose some of these best vegetables to plant in summer.
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Now that you know more about the best vegetables to plant in summer, are you interested in even more outstanding gardening and eco-friendly living tips? Then be sure to check out some of our other popular posts:
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