Nothing says “summer” quite like a flourishing garden full of blossoming plants ready for harvest. Learn more about which plants do best in the heat of summer and get some tips and tricks on how to ensure your garden is bountiful. You will also find out what to plant with each of your summer favorites to encourage growth and resist disease.
Cucumbers are prolific producers and perfect for eating straight off the vine, tossing in salads or pickling. Look to traditional, burpless or varieties that are hard to find at the store. Persian cucumbers, lemon cucumbers and cucamelons are all wonderful. Cucamelons, which are actually a gherkin, are not true cucumbers but are grown as such. Both are hardy and adorable and pack extra crunch thanks to their tiny size. Cucumbers can be trained to climb an a-frame trellis, while cucamelons will even climb an arbor. Plant in rich soil in full sun in the spring and water regularly for summer-long harvests.
Grow salad tomatoes like ‘Sun Gold’ and ‘Sweet 100’s’ for picking and eating. Beef steak tomatoes are perfect for slicing. While tomatoes like Romas and heirloom ‘Black Vernissage’ are best for roasting, sauces and soups. Tomatoes generally need a long growing season with plenty of heat and full sun, at least 6 to 8 hours a day. Some patio and bush tomatoes have shorter growing seasons. As a rule of thumb, it is best to plant tomatoes as soon as the weather warms in spring to ensure a bumper crop by August.
Peppers can be grown side-by-side with tomatoes as well as eggplants because they have similar growing requirements. They all prefer full sun, rich soil and consistent deep watering. To help keep your peppers well-watered, use a bubbler or a Thumb Control Watering Nozzle. Make sure to water near soil level whenever possible to prevent soil borne diseases from splashing on lower leaves. Grow patio varieties, sweet or hot peppers to add to pizzas and salsas or for roasting.
There are a plethora of squash varieties. Delicata, Crookneck, Cousa, Pattypans, Summer squash and Zucchini are all wonderful options to start with. Try growing Cinderella pumpkins for both eating and carving. For a twist on the traditional squash dishes, try the crowd-pleasing breaded and fried flowers. They’re delicious! Squash, like tomatoes, have a long growing season. Plant them in well-drained soil early from seeds or starts. Be sure to give them plenty of sun and consistent deep watering using an elevated garden sprinkler or spray nozzle like the Thumb Control Watering Nozzle.
Sorrels, like this French red veined variety known as ‘Raspberry Dressing’, are cold-hardy perennials offering greens throughout the hottest days of summer. They are gorgeous while growing and have a refreshing, tangy flavor that is perfect in salads and soups. Give them a spot in the garden or in a container where they can come back year after year. Place plantings strategically to better enjoy their striking foliage.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes differ from regular potatoes in that they like warm weather and soil. These tropical plants are cold-sensitive and do best when planted about a month after the last frost date. As long as both the days and the soil are warm, sweet potatoes are easy to grow and will quickly mature to an abundance of pretty vines that spread as wide as you let them. Plant in well-drained soil with compost mixed in. Sweet potatoes grow well near dill, tyme and parsnips.
Okra is a hot-weather-loving plant. Sow directly in the garden several weeks after the last frost has passed. If transplanting from seeds that were started indoors, be extremely gentle with seedlings, as they have very delicate roots. Plant in full sun in rich soil and be sure to harvest regularly. Pick okra pods when they have grown 3 to 4 inches. Do not let pods over-mature or the plant will cease producing.