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Summer is right around the corner, and you are eager to get started on your vegetable garden. What seeds do you buy for summer planting? Are there some vegetables that prefer the warmer temperatures to thrive? In this article, we share the best summer vegetables to grow and some tips for getting started.

Vegetables To Plant in the Summer


Cucumbers are classic heat-tolerant vegetables that are great for salads and snacks, or you can eat them right off the vine. With fertile soil and sufficient moisture, a few plants can produce enough salads and pickles to feed the family. Plant the cucumber seed directly in the soil when it reaches a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Use a fence or trellis that offers adequate air circulation to keep leaf spots at bay and makes harvesting easy. Give the plant plenty of space to grow, and water your plants regularly to prevent bitter or misshapen produce. Harvest cucumbers often to stimulate new growth.


During the summer, this tasty vegetable is abundant and easy to grow. Harvested between mid and late summer, eggplants thrive in high temperatures. Plant eggplants at least three weeks after the last frost and with well-drained soil. While eggplant roots love the heat, they need to be moist and cool during the growing season. Make sure the soil is rich and the plants receive regular water. Be sure to apply mulch during the growing season to keep the roots moist and warm. This will also warm the soil and accelerate growth in colder climates. You can also apply heat-generating materials such as black plastic mulch or a cloche.

Eggplant seeds do well as a companion plant with beans, amaranth, spinach, peppers and thyme.

Green Beans

Not only are green beans a great summer vegetable, but they are also a powerhouse of nutrition and one of the best sources of protein. You can plant your premium seeds after the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees and the air temperature reaches 65 to 85 degrees.

Pole beans can be harvested from midsummer to fall, and bush types can be sown periodically to produce a continuous crop. However, the soil should be fertile and fully exposed to sunlight.

Rotate the planting locations in your garden so you can benefit from the nitrogen-fixing capacity of the plants. Use containers and trellises to maximize production. Besides the ever-popular green bean, other options include black, fava, pinto, lima and bush.

You can go with bush beans for an early harvest, or plant pole beans for a long, steady harvest. In most cases, bush varieties can support themselves, but pole varieties will require some kind of trellis or pole to climb.

With rhizobium bacteria as symbiotic partners, beans provide nitrogen to the soil. Similar to cucumbers, green bean seeds grow up instead of out, so space is not a concern. Many companion plants benefit from beans, including carrots, peas, broccoli and different types of cabbages, which are easy to grow, have little or no maintenance and can survive frost.


Even though salad greens are typically a cool-weather crop, you can still eat them in the summer. You can reseed greens every few weeks and harvest the leaves when they are young. Germination rates decrease when the soil temperature reaches 80–85 degrees Fahrenheit.

In order to ensure a plentiful harvest throughout the summer, plant new plants every three to five weeks, depending on the size of your garden. Choose brighter greens like chard or sorrel to contrast the colors in your container arrangements. Make sure you give your plants enough water during hot weather. Greens do well when planted with beetroot and beans.

You can choose varieties of greens, like Malabar spinach, “Miz America” mizuna and heat-tolerant New Zealand spinach. Collards, mustard and Swiss chard greens are great-tasting and cold and heat tolerant. Even regular lettuce will grow with plenty of shade and water during the summer.


A slice of sweet, juicy melon is one of the summer's best pleasures, and melons are plentiful throughout the summer. Growing melons requires sandy loam soil that drains well. The soil should be kept moist between waterings, and plants should be planted in full sunlight.

Since melons are sensitive to drought, melons need plenty of water, heat, rich soil and fertilizer to grow ripe, succulent fruit. Consider a south-facing site that receives reflected heat and has ample room for vine growth. Sow seeds when the soil temperature is 65–70 degrees F, or grow plants from nursery starts. Warm the soil and speed up plant growth by using heat-enhancing methods, such as cloches or black plastic.

It is possible to protect melons with various companion plants, such as marigolds and sunflowers.


A staple of Southern cuisine, okra is a hardy vegetable that tolerates warmer climates well. Okra has a high heat tolerance and is drought-resistant. After the last frost has passed, plant in full sun with well-drained, rich soil once the soil temperature reaches 65–70 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are transplanting seedlings that started indoors, take extra care, as their roots are delicate. After germination, edible seed pods appear in only 50–60 days. Harvest the pods shortly after flowering, and pick them when they are 3 to 4 inches long to ensure the best texture and yield. Do not allow pods to over-mature, or the plant will stop producing.

Though okra is drought-tolerant, it produces better yields when receiving regular water. You can use it to make stews, cream soups or Creole gumbos. Consider eggplant, cucumber and melon plants as companions for okra.


This versatile warm-weather veggie is available in many flavors to suit every palate. Due to the long growing period, start plants indoors or buy nursery starts. Plant outdoors only if the nighttime temperature is constantly held at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Peppers thrive in full sun, with well-draining soil and a regular water supply. When watering peppers, use a bubbler or thumb-control nozzle. It is best to water near the soil line to avoid spreading soil-borne diseases to lower leaves. At planting time, add granular vegetable fertilizer to the soil and water evenly. Caging or staking plants can prevent them from bending or snapping as a result of fruit weight.

Plant patio varieties of sweet or hot peppers to roast or add to pizzas and salsas. You can grow peppers alongside tomatoes and eggplants due to their similar growth requirements. In addition, you can grow peppers near squash, carrots, radishes and alliums (such as garlic and onions).

Southern Peas

Southern peas, such as black-eyed peas and crowder peas, do not tolerate frost. To calculate when to plant, calculate your average first frost date, subtract the maturity date from the seed packet, and add one week for germination. You can soak seeds overnight to speed germination.

Directly sow peas in the garden or start six weeks indoors before transplanting. Grow in full sun or partial shade in well-drained, loamy, sandy soil. Southern peas, like other varieties of peas, are excellent for improving soil. Do not let the soil dry out. You can avoid damaging delicate blooms by watering plants from the bottom rather than above. During the hottest part of the day, shade new seedlings and apply organic mulch to help reduce soil temperatures.

Make sure plants are well hydrated so they can flower and produce pods. Black-eyed peas should not be grown with other plants such as onions or garlic as they may stunt one another's growth. However, strawberries and cucumbers go well with black-eyed peas.


In contrast to winter squash, summer squash does not store well and is better eaten fresh. Select a sunny location with rich, well-draining soil. Plant seeds directly in hills or rows once the soil temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The squash plants require at least 2 inches of water each week, and consider adding drip irrigation to prevent diseases.

Regular harvesting can also promote flowering and fruit production. Summer squashes are great options for beginners. They are delicious and have a long growing season. There are many varieties of squash, like yellow and green zucchini, zephyr, crookneck, straightneck and pattypan.


Even though sunflowers aren't vegetables, they make a great addition to your summer garden. Sunflower seeds are pretty easy to grow and require no special care for their soil, and they are drought-tolerant. You can also enjoy their edible seeds or put them in bird feeders in the winter.

Sunflowers are the ideal plant for gardeners who want an easy-to-maintain plant. They will grow and flower, producing seeds for the family and wildlife with little effort on your part, although supplemental water will boost germination.

Sweet Corn

Summer picnics and barbecues are incomplete without sweet corn. It is one of the most popular and fast-growing summer crops that is delicious and rewarding all summer long.

Corn needs plenty of water and fertilizer to produce plump, tender kernels. Water regularly, since corn has shallow roots and will not tolerate dry soil. A successful corn crop requires both space and pollination. Plant multiple rows or 4-foot squares to ensure cross-pollination.
Harvest when fresh for the most flavor. Grill fresh ears and top them with aioli, pesto or fresh herbs to create a unique twist.

Plant corn, squash and beans together, otherwise known as the "three sisters."


What summer garden is complete without tomatoes? Nothing beats the taste of fresh homegrown tomatoes. This popular vegetable requires a hot summer to flourish.

Tomato plants are heavy feeders, requiring fertile soil and fertilizer to thrive. Choose a location that receives plenty of sunlight and provides regular watering and fertilizer for the best results. When transplanting outdoors, wait until nighttime temperatures reach 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Trellising, cages or stakes will be necessary to support fruits.

Growing tomatoes generally requires a long growing season as well as full sun, at least six to eight hours per day. Bush tomatoes and patio tomatoes have shorter growing seasons. The best time to plant tomatoes is as soon as the weather warms up in spring. For picking and eating, grow salad tomatoes such as “Sun Gold” and “Sweet 100.” For slicing, use beefsteak tomatoes. Roma and Black Vernissage tomatoes work best for roasting, sauces and soups. Marigolds, chives and basil are among the companion plants that make tomatoes thrive.


Zucchini require a lot of space in the garden, so companion plants with opposite characteristics are essential. They also require regular watering and are heavy feeders.

By virtue of their broad leaves and vining nature, they provide shade to keep weeds under control and retain soil moisture, which will benefit companion plants with similar requirements. You can choose companion plants that will thrive with these popular summer vegetables by keeping this in mind.

Tips for Growing Summer Vegetables

Grow regionally: Select varieties that will thrive in your area, and choose varieties that mature quickly if your planting season is short.

Mulch: Apply 1 to 2 inches of compost around plants to suppress, weed, conserve water and cool the soil.

Plant watering: Use an early morning irrigation system to minimize evaporation and prevent foliar diseases.

Provide shade: During the hottest times of the day, crops like peas, greens, broccoli and cauliflower benefit from partial shade.

Plant successively: Plant bush beans and lettuce every few weeks so you can harvest them continuously.

Harvest: Pick crops in the morning or the evening. Produce remains fresher, crisper and more flavorful than vegetables harvested in the middle of the day.