Heat tolerant vegetable seeds

Which Vegetables Grow Best In Hot Weather?

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Spring and fall you have so many choices for your vegetable garden, but when the dog days of summer hit, especially in the south, those choices dwindle. But there are still a few hot weather vegetables to keep you harvesting all summer long.

All vegetables have their own range of temperatures that they grow best in. So if you want a garden in the heat of summer, you will want to pick the right plants to grow.

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DepositPhoto ID#6937853 DLeonis

Some Like It Hot! Hot Weather Vegetables That Is.

Here are my top picks of vegetables to grow when the thermometer begins to rise.

1) Sweet Potatoes

When it’s too hot to grow white potatoes, sweet potatoes are just catching their stride.

Wait until the ground is good and warm to put the slips in the ground. The vines spread so quickly they choke out most of the weeds. (Yeah!) That’s reason enough to grow them.

Did you know you can also eat the leaves of the sweet potato vine? Saute them up or throw them in a soup. And don’t forget your farm animals love them too. My ducks and chickens will devour them, so don’t let them free range in your summer garden.

Harvest before the soil temperature drops to 55° F.

Top Choice: Beauregard

2) Hot Peppers

While bell peppers slow down and start to dwindle, many hot peppers are just getting going. Use in salsas, season dishes or stuff and grill for outstanding homemade poppers.

There are so many varieties to choose from. From mildly pungent to set your mouth on fire.

Top Choice: Ancho Grande (mildly spicy)

3) Melons

The summertime heat brings out the sweet in melons. Thought these are not really hot weather vegetables, (since they are fruit) these hot weather fruit still belong on the list.

Whether cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon you can’t beat the drip off the chin syrup of the summertime melon fresh from the vine.

Keep them evenly moist, but don’t over water as they are ripening as their flavor will not be as sweet, it will quite literally be watered down.

Though there are a few bush varieties, most melons require a lot of space to sprawl. Plan accordingly so they don’t choke out other vegetables in your garden. Or you can try tying them to your fence with the “pantyhose technique”.

Top Choice: Sugarbaby

4) Okra

Probably my favorite summer vegetable is okra. If you’ve only ever had it in a stew or gumbo where the texture is slimy, give sauteing, frying or baking a try. That eliminates the slime factor. But don’t forget to pickle some. That’s my families favorite way to eat okra.

A true hot weather vegetable, it loves warm nights. Mulch to keep the roots a little cooler and to conserve moisture. But most important, pick the pods when small, no more than 3 inches max and pick every day or at least every other day. This plant is very prolific, but unforgiving if you let the pods get too big. Then they become woody.

Top Choice: Clemson Spineless

Related Reading: Tips For Growing Fantastic Okra

5) Malabar Spinach

Though it looks quite similar and can be used in the same recipes as spinach, Malabar spinach is not really a spinach at all and that’s a good thing. Because spinach just can’t do the hot weather thing.

Grow it on a trellis and you will have greens all summer long.

This is a really pretty edible landscape plant. Try it in the front garden.

Top Choice: Malabar Spinach

DepositPhoto ID# 81281960 bhofack2 & ID# 60589293 Ajayptp

6) New Zealand Spinach

Also not a true spinach, but can be used in the same way. Salads, soups stirfry this green will add a much-needed taste and nutritional punch when your other greens have taken a vacation.

Pretty much disease and pest free, it will keep on giving all through those 90° plus days.

These generally have a poor germination rate, so soak your seeds and/or pre-sprout so you end up with the quantity you want.

Top Choice: New Zealand Spinach

7) Eggplant

Eggplant loves the heat and most take quite a long growing season. I prefer the slender Asian eggplant as they are less bitter and you don’t have to peel them. My sister, on the other hand, prefers the large roundish variety as she can slice them thin and roll them up with stuffing inside. Both varieties are wonderful in dishes like Ratatouille.

Top Choice: Long Ping Tung

Related Reading: Eggplant – Planting, Growing, and Harvesting

8) Yardlong beans

Yardlong beans, also called asparagus beans thrive in the heat. They have a sweet nutty flavor. Grow them on a trellis or fence and pick them when they are no more than 12 inches long for the best flavor and tenderness.

Top Choice: Asparagus Yard-Long

9) Corn

Corn is very much in the category of hot weather vegetables, corn does not like to be planted until the ground has warmed.

The hotter it gets the faster it grows. Corn needs a lot of moisture to develop those ears and is a very heavy feeder. This is a great plant to follow the nitrogen-fixing beans and peas in your plant rotation cycle.

Plant in blocks not in rows as it is wind pollinated. You can hand pollinate if you have a very small plot.

Your biggest problem will be watching for corn earworms.

(And yes I know corn is really a grain and not a vegetable at all.)

Top Choice: Silver Queen
Try something fun! Strawberry Popcorn

10) Southern Peas / Blackeyed Peas / Cow Peas

Though really beans, not peas at all, these are a real staple in the south. Picked very young they can be used like string beans. (though not as tender) But let the beans inside fill out, shell them and cook them with a little water or broth add a strip or two of bacon and you will make a southerners mouth water. Let them dry on the vine and you have dry beans for storage.

Top Choice: Queen Anne Blackeyed Pea

11) Armenian Cucumbers

While they are technically a melon, they have a great cucumber flavor and are wonderful sliced in salads. They make great pickles too. Pick them when they are no more than 18 inches long.

Top Choice: Long Green

DepositPhoto ID# 13931886 miflippo

12) Tomatillos

Last but not least, of these hot weather vegetables are tomatillos. Many people are not very familiar with them but you really ought to give them a try.

Though, related to the tomato these little guys love the heat and will keep producing when your tomatoes have just petered out. They come in more than one flavor and are very versatile.

Try them in more than just salsas. Raw or cooked they will add that extra pizzaz to your summertime table.

Top Choice: Verde

So even if your summer temperatures hit 100°F or more, you can still have produce in the garden with these hot weather vegetables.

Learn More:

How To Start A Container Garden Like A Pro

Control Bugs In Your Garden Naturally

Solarizing Your Garden

DIY Garden Towers

Start Seedlings Like A Pro

Join me and get email updates and receive a FREE vegetable rotation guide.

“I believe everyone can grow at least part of their own food.”

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Some Like It Hot! Best Vegetables to Grow in the Heat

A week-long heat wave and a recent question—concerning what green beans to grow in a hot climate—got me thinking. Which vegetables thrive in exceptionally hot weather? Keep these plants in mind.

Top Veggies for Hot Weather

Peas, spinach, and lettuce will certainly not make the list but some vegetables actually need the heat to grow well and develop the best flavor.

When looking for heat loving plants pay attention to the origin of the species. A plant that hails from a tropical or sub-tropical region will do better in the heat than one from a northern climate.

Yard-long beans—also called asparagus beans—are from southern Asia and unlike regular snap beans that drop their blossoms and sulk in extremely hot weather, they thrive in the heat. Related to cowpeas—another bean that stands up to sweltering temperatures and high humidity—yard-long beans are best grown on a trellis or fence. Don’t wait for them to get a 36 inches long before picking though. They are best eaten at about 12 to 15 inches long, before the beans fill out the pod.

Okra is a favorite in the deep South. Native to Ethiopia, it likes warm nights and soil temperatures in the 80’s. A member of the mallow family, it has beautiful hibiscus-like flowers that are self-pollinating so you don’t have to worry if it is too hot for the bees to do their job. Pick the pods while they are young and tender.

Melons originated in Africa and southern Asia. They need 2 to 3 months of hot weather to develop their luscious sweetness. Keep the plants evenly moist but don’t overwater especially when the fruits are ripening. Too much water will dilute the sugars, making the melons bland. Many heirloom varieties are deep rooted and able to stand up to heat and drought.

Sweet potatoes are another tropical plant popular in the South and they are becoming a favorite with northern gardeners too. The plants like the heat as long as they have even moisture. Harvest before the soil temperatures drop below 55 degrees.

Malabar spinach is an Asian green that grows best when soil temps are above 80 degrees and the air temperature is in the 90’s. It is a climber, so plant it near a trellis or fence. It is not related to spinach at all but makes a great substitute in summer whether eaten raw or cooked.

New Zealand spinach is another good summer green. Originally from Australia and New Zealand it is pretty much pest and disease free along with being heat and drought tolerant. When cooked it tastes just like spinach.

Eggplants love it when the soil warms up to 80 to 90 degrees and nights are above 70. They are native to southeast Asia and India where eggplant is the basis of many delicious recipes. Take advantage of hot weather to grow long season types like ‘Listada de Gandia’ or ‘Black Beauty’ or for shorter growing seasons choose an Asian variety such as ‘Ping Tung Long’ or ‘Thai Long Green’.

Corn hails from Mexico. The hotter it gets the faster it grows as long as there is adequate moisture in the soil. Corn really drinks up the water to form those crunchy kernels so keep an eye on it.

Tomatoes may be native to the tropics of South America but prolonged periods of time with days over 95 degrees and nights over 85 coupled with dryness can cause blossoms to drop and plant growth to stop. Look for hybrid varieties bred for the deep South. The University of Florida has introduced many for growers in hot climates. Cherry tomatoes ‘Sungold’ and ‘Jasper’ are recommended for long hot summers. Some heirlooms stand up to heat well also. Give ‘Arkansas Traveler’, ‘Brandywine’, and ‘San Marzano’ a try.

Peppers are another tropical from the western hemisphere, native to Central and South America. Hot peppers seem to hold up better during prolonged heat than the sweet bells. University of Florida recommends ‘Cal Wonder’, ‘Red Knight’, ‘Big Bertha’, ‘Sweet Banana’, and ‘Cubanelle’ for sweet peppers that can survive a heat wave as long as they are mulched well to keep soil moisture even. The Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University has developed some awesome varieties of hot peppers that thrive in hot dry locations. Look for any variety that has NuMex in its name.

Have you ever noticed that people living in the hottest climates eat a lot of spicy hot foods? It not only tastes great but can help to cool you off on a hot day. The spicy food makes you sweat by increasing your blood circulation and as the sweat evaporates, it cools you down. Scientists call this gustatory facial sweating, since it is caused by food and the sweat breaks out on your face first. So if you are sweltering in the heat eat a spicy meal and cool down.

See the Almanac’s free Growing Growing Guides for tips on how to grow all of these veggies!

Consider These Heat, Drought Tolerant Vegetables for your Garden

Our weather pattern is changing. Remember the good old days
of freezing cold, snow then crystal blue skies? Now we have freezing rain,
cold, slushy snow, gray and overcast skies. Will the changes be long lasting?
Will the changes be good or bad? Does anyone really know? Regardless, prepare to modify some of your traditional gardening practices. If we are in a warming trend (yes, we are), you will need to make some changes if you expect to have a bountiful harvest.

Most vegetables are categorized into two types: cool-weather and warm-weather. Cool-weather plants do well in the spring and fall, while warm-weather plants prefer plenty of sun and heat. That said, just because warm-weather plants can thrive in hot (and possibly drier) weather does not mean that they can stand too much direct sun or prolonged heat. And they need water, regardless. You can help your plants through the hotter, drier conditions.

As home gardeners, we should not become overly hysterical about
whether we get our quota of sufficient rain in our vegetable garden. We can
control the amount of moisture our plants receive by simply watering them. Farmers and commercial growers? Well, perhaps not so much. If nature is not supplying the moisture, give your plants plenty of water. If you use containers, you will need to water more frequently, perhaps every day depending on the weather, but that is not a hardship. Your plants will appreciate your extra efforts to keep them alive and well.

Here is a list of some herbs and vegetables that can tolerate drier conditions and higher temperatures.

  • Amaranth (harvest and eat leaf amaranth like spinach)
  • Arugula
  • Asian Greens (a wide selection here)
  • Asparagus. This is a perennial. You plant it once and let it grow in that same area. Don’t move it! A well prepared bed will produce spears for at least 15-20 years. And that is a cost effective bargain!
  • Beans (bush and pole)
  • Broccoli (Sun King Hybrid)
  • Cabbage
  • Chards
  • Chinese Cabbages
  • Cowpeas
  • Cucumbers
  • Dandelion
  • Eggplant*
  • Endive
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Lettuces (leaf varieties, harvest young and early in the season)
  • Melons (cantaloupe, honey-dew, watermelons, etc.)
  • Okra
  • Onions (sets and plants)
  • Peppers* (sweet and hot peppers)
  • Pumpkins
  • Rhubarb. This is a perennial and another cost effective bargain. Again, plant it where it can remain for a number of years. If you need to divide or move it, do it as soon as it breaks the surface in early spring)
  • Spinach (New Zealand, Malabar)
  • Squash (summer and winter)
  • Sweet Corn (lots to choose from-white, yellow, yellow and white)
  • Sweet Potatoes (Georgia Jet, Vardaman, Wakenda)
  • Tomatoes (thousands to choose from-Solar Fire, Sun Leaper, Sunmaster, Equinox, many cherry varieties)
  • Woody stemmed herbs (Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Winter Savory)

Mulching your plants will help retain moisture, keep the soil cooler, and keep weeds under control. Use grass clippings, straw, marsh hay, newspaper, and cardboard. You can plant cool weather crops such as lettuces, radishes, and salad greens, but plant them early in the season and harvest them earlier, before the hotter, drier weather appears.

If you grow chards and dandelions, do not remove the whole plant. Cut it about 2″ above the soil line for a continuous crop. Cabbage? Remove the head about 2″ above the soil line. The plant could produce 3 to 4 baseball sized heads later in the season.

*Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplants are heat loving plants. However, you will notice blossoms dropping and lower yields when the daytime temperatures remain above 95 degrees and night time temperatures remain above 85 degrees for an extended period of time, e.g., several concurrent days. In addition, the fruit can develop sunscald if exposed to too much direct sun.

You can provide some relief from the heat by using shade cloth to protect your eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. No need to buy anything fancy. Purchase the porous shade cloth that you use to cover a dog kennel. Depending on the product, shade cloth can lower the temperature by approximately 5-15 degrees. Place the shade cloth on the south side of your plants. In addition, place taller plants, such as tomatoes or corn on the south side of your lettuce, chards, and endive. This will create some shade and slightly lower temperatures.

Many vegetables will tolerate brief periods of higher heat and lower moisture conditions. This list will give you a starting point for selecting herbs and vegetables that typically are more naturally tolerant to drought and higher temperatures.

Questions? Comments? Please contact me at this blog or at [email protected]

by Matt Gibson

When the summer weather starts to heat up, some plants wither away, while others stand up to the heat, and even thrive in hot conditions, such as these 12 heat tolerant vegetables for the summer garden. While there are some tricks of the trade that might help you gain a little bit of luck seeing your spring veggies through an especially warm summer, it’s a safer idea to seek out and plant lots of vegetables that are specifically heat-tolerant, and are cultivated to produce well during the summer months, instead of trying to defy the laws of nature.

While some plants simply do okay during the summer, there are a whole slew of vegetables that were born for the task, and they will keep you eating your own fresh garden-grown produce in abundance all summer long. The following 12 vegetables are the best picks for your summer garden.

Sweet Potatoes

Bide your time until the weather is as hot as it’s like to get in your area to plant these slightly-sweet, hot day and warm night-loving spuds. When it becomes too hot to grow traditional potato crops, sweet potatoes come to the rescue. After planting, keep an eye on the seedlings until they are established, making sure to keep the soil moist until they form into vines and begin to spread across the ground.

In around 90 days, you can start pulling up your sweet potato harvest and picking out some recipes. In the meantime, feel free to worry about something else, because sweet potatoes need little to no attention from you to sprout in abundance. Plus, sweet potato plants need no hilling, and can be easily preserved for the following summer by storing in a root cellar or similar climate.

Okra

Whether you plan to fry it, pickle it, toss it into a soup or enjoy it fresh in a salad, okra is a wonderful plant to grow in the summer garden. Not only is the okra plant self-sufficient, it adapts to especially dry and hot conditions like a champ, and is even widely considered heat and drought-tolerant in most climates.

The hairy (and somewhat slimy) seed pods are an essential ingredient in the cajun favorite, gumbo. Also called lady fingers, the original okra plant has been bred and modified to create new hybrids, each with their own benefits, but the older heirloom varieties are the way to go, as they have deeper root systems that are more suited to hot weather conditions and less susceptible to nematode problems. Spineless varieties tend to stay tender for longer after harvesting.

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are easy to grow during the warm summer months. Slightly sweet, and not at all spicy, these peppers are enjoyed in stews, salads, sandwiches, and more. Gardeners in the south should look for nematode resistant varieties. Try growing ‘Carolina Wonder,’ and ‘Charleston Belle,’ from seed for starters. Depending on when they are harvested, bell peppers can be yellow, orange, red, or green.

Hot Peppers

Hot peppers are not just super prolific during the summer months. They actually produce from spring all the way to fall with no problems in most climates. Some hot pepper varieties tend to slow down production a bit during the warmer months while increasing in flavor and heat intensity. The hotter peppers don’t seem to slow in production during the summer at all though, but keep right on sprouting fresh fruit with a spicy kick. Hot peppers grow all around the world in hot climate areas.

It’s no surprise, then, that hot climate areas tend to have a tendency towards spice-heavy dishes, as that’s where all the hot peppers grow freely. Try out a few different kinds of hot peppers in your garden. Plant the more popular jalapeno and serrano peppers, but try at least one lesser known variety. We recommend Aji Dulce, which has a unique, slightly-spicy, and complex flavor that we just can’t get enough of. Another bonus for growing hot peppers is that they are generally pest resistant, sometimes even pest deterrent, due to their boldness of flavor and aroma.

Eggplant

Of all the members of the Solanaceous family, which includes tomatoes and potatoes, the eggplant takes the crown for best summer crop. The elongated Asian varieties or the globe-shaped Mediterranean eggplants are the best picks for the home garden. We recommend the following three options. It’s never a bad idea to start with an heirloom plant, and growing the flavorful heirloom, Listada de Gandia, native to France and Italy, is no exception. Listada, which is known for thriving in hot weather. The more popular Black Beauty is perfectly suited for the southern US as well and has a high rate of success. Finally, the long, narrow Asian variety, Ping Tung Long, can endure the most intensely hot and humid climates in the world.

Cucumber

What vegetable is more reminiscent of the summer than cucumber? All cucumbers require is nutritious and moist soil and a whole lot of sun to produce in abundance. Just a few plants will give you plenty of cucumbers for the season. You will likely have more than enough, which is never a bad thing, as you can always make a few batches of pickles to use throughout the year, or even give away a basket or two to close friends, family, or neighbors with less fortunate gardening abilities.

Corn

Corn is one of the most popular summer vegetables that you can grow with relative ease. A mild tasting vegetable that can be grown with relatively little maintenance, corn is a common choice for many gardeners. Corn tastes great on just about anything. Add it to soups, salads, wraps, chili, pizza, and practically anything else that you can think of. Keep your corn plants well watered and keep an eye out for worms that like to munch on the ears of the plants. If you see any worms on your corn plants, remove them and put them into your compost pile, where they will work to the benefit of your garden, instead of against you.

Squash/Zucchini

Squash and Zucchini, both summer and winter varieties, are best grown in hot weather environments. If you live in a region where squash vine borers or squash bugs are an issue, avoid problems by starting your seeds indoors and waiting to transplant the seedlings outside until late June or early July. Use row covers to protect your plants until they begin to bloom. You can also cover stems with soil to protect against vine borer damage as your plants mature.

Southern Peas

Southern peas, or cowpeas, are easy to grow, and surprisingly versatile, both in the garden and the kitchen. When the pods are young, they can be munched on in the same way as snap beans would. Once matured, green snap peas can be cooked into a wonderful side dish, or eaten raw, as a salad topping. You can also dry them and store them to cook and eat at any time you wish.

Beans (Yard-Long & Green)

Yard-long beans, also known as asparagus beans, have a sweet, nutty flavor. These highly productive plants can be grown on teepees, and will provide shade for neighboring plants that don’t do well when grown in direct sunlight.

Green beans are another great choice for the summer veggie garden. Choose pole beans for a long season of steady production, or bush beans for a super quick crop.

Spinach (Malabar & New Zealand)

Malabar Spinach is a vining plant that produces a tasty, nutrient rich foliage that can be used as a salad green or cooked into a tasty side dish. Malabar Spinach is best grown in climates that have 90 degree temperatures throughout the summer.

New Zealand Spinach, though not technically a spinach, does produce lots of heat-tolerant leaves that can be used as a spinach replacement and can be grown in most areas during the summer.

Tomatoes (Tomatillos & Other Southern Species)

Great for salsas, sauces, and dressing pasta, tomatillos are green, heat-loving fruits that grow prolifically in the garden and in the wild. Some areas in mexico use tomatillos for their staple salsa base.

Tomatoes that are grown in the deep south are also great choices for summer gardens. Tomato varieties such as Neptune, Tropic VFN, and Ozark Pink VF are all great choices for growing during the summer.

The twelve crops listed above should give you plenty of options to choose from when selecting the right veggies to grow during the summer months.

Want to learn more about heat tolerant garden vegetables?

Attainable Sustainable covers Heat Tolerant Vegetables that Thrive in Blazing Summertime Weather

HGTV covers Top 15 Vegetables to Grow in the Heat

SFGate Homeguides covers Heat Tolerant Vegetables

Southern Exposure covers What to Grow in Hot Summers

Opting for heat tolerant vegetables in your garden can be the difference between success and failure in some regions. If you live in a hot climate, like we do here in Texas, it can be a challenge to grow much of anything during the summer months.

This is the glory of the year for many in northern climates – green grass, lush gardens, regular rainfall. But for this dry and arid climate, it is a bit like a hot winter – a difficult time of year for the garden and often the homesteader.

While lettuce and beets and carrots and even tomatoes don’t do so well in the hot, dry summers we have, there are a bunch of things that do withstand the extreme conditions. Some of these are southern staples, others just a specific variety that seems to withstand the triple digit days better than others.

All of these heat tolerant vegetables are delicious and perfect for eating as well as preserving.

Okra

If you’ve only ever had okra sliced and fried, consider trying different cooking and preserving methods. Notoriously “slimy”, this pod goes crazy for hot days and sleepless, warm nights. Fermented or vinegar-brined into pickles is a kid-favorite in our house. Roasted and thrown into stews is our other favorite way to eat them. Look for spineless varieties that remain tender longer. Okra benefits from a good soak before planting.

Eggplant

These heat tolerant vegetables are a member of the nightshade family and absolutely has to have heat to thrive. There are many varieties and are often categorized into their indigenous locations – Italy, Thailand, or Japanese. Look for varieties that aren’t bitter and, if your climate is also dry, look for drought resistant varieties.

Cowpeas

Another southern staple, and for good reason. We have always had a hard time growing traditional green beans through the summer, but not good old black-eyed peas. These guys reach for the sun on the hottest of days and produce like mad when nothing else will. Look for a good-tasting, stringless variety, if you can, as they are not nearly as tender as green beans. Pick them young for a green bean harvest or shell them as they get a bit older.

Related: A Drought-Tolerant Veggie Garden: Waterwise Techniques

One of those southern staples, sweet potatoes thrive on hot days and warm nights. When it’s too hot to grow white potatoes through summer – and it is here in Texas – sweet potatoes step in as a staple crop set for a fall harvest. They receive bonus points for not needing any hilling and preserving themselves when stored in a root cellar or similar climate.

And did you know you can eat the sweet potato greens in salads and stir-fries? They’re deliciously mild!

Related: Edible Front Yard Landscaping: Pretty Enough to Fool Your Homeowners Association

Armenian Cucumbers

While all other cucumber varieties wilt in our summer heat, this long, snake-like cucumber keeps flowering and producing all summer long. Genetically a melon, it has great cucumber flavor, is perfect for salads, and can be used to make canned pickle slices with great results. Pick at around 18″ for best results.

Tomatillos

There is a reason that some areas in Mexico use tomatillos rather than tomatoes as their staple salsa base. These guys love the heat, are prolific in nature, and produce little green fruits with a husk abundantly. They are great for salsas, sauces, and even dressing pasta.

New Zealand Spinach

This is not technically a spinach but because it is not, it continues to produce heat tolerant greens even through summer. It has a notoriously low germination rate so consider soaking seeds before planting. When harvesting, use the greens in salads, soups, and other cooked dishes.

Plant some heat tolerant vegetables!

This list encompasses heat tolerant vegetables you can plant now, even in 95-100 degree days. They will germinate and thrive through the summer heat if given a good start. There are many vegetables that will do tolerably well in the heat but should be started earlier in order to make it in a hotter climate such as tomatoes, winter and summer squash, sunflowers, and more.

The one thing to keep in mind is how much of your growing season remains. If you are in a hot climate, you most likely still have through October or November to get growing, giving you 4-5 more months.

Planting Warm-Season Crops

Vegetables are classed as either warm- or cool-season, depending on the weather they need for best growth.

Warm-season veggies require both warm soil and high temperatures (with a little cooling at night) to grow steadily and produce crops.

They include traditional summer crops such as snap beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, peppers, tomatoes, and squash.

“Winter” squashes such as acorn, hubbard, and banana are actually warm season crops: the name refers not to the planting season, but to the fact that they can be stored for winter consumption.

For almost all of these vegetables, the fruit (rather than the roots or leaves), is the edible part. Warm season crops are killed by winter frosts, so don’t plant them until after the last frost in spring unless you give them cold protection.

Some warm-season crops:

  • Beans
  • Celery (cold climates)
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Edamame
  • Eggplant
  • Muskmelons
  • Okra
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Sweet potato (needs long, hot, frost-free season)
  • Tomatillo
  • Tomato
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini
  • Herbs (annual)
  • Basil

Biennial and perennial crops
These crops don’t fall neatly into a cool or warm season category.

  • Artichoke (perennial in Sunset climate zones 8,9,14-24; annual in zones 11-13) ―Plant in fall for spring harvest
  • Asparagus ― Plant seedlings or roots in fall or winter; early spring in cold-winter areas. Cut first spears early during year two; plants take three years or so to come into full production.
  • Cardoon (Zones 4 to 9, 12 to 24) ― Plant in fall for spring harvested stalks
  • Chive ― Plant in fall or spring
  • Garlic ― In mild winter areas, plant in fall; where winters are cold, plant in early spring.
  • Leek ― In cold winter regions, set out transplants in early spring, or sow seed in late summer for harvest the following year. In mild winter regions, set out transplants in fall.
  • Parsley ― In cold climates, plant in spring, after last frost. Plant in fall or early spring where winters are mild; in early fall in the low desert.
  • Parsnip ― In cold winter areas, sow seeds in late spring, harvest in fall. In mild winter areas, sow in fall for harvest in spring.
  • Shallot ― In mild climates, plant in fall to harvest green tops through winter and spring, bulbs in late spring and summer. In cold climates, plant in early spring for green shoots in summer, bulbs in autumn.
  • Sorrel ― Sow seeds in fall; set out transplants any time
  • Turnip ― Winter crop in mild-winter areas. Where winters are cold, plant in early spring for summer harvest.

More: Cool-season-crops

Beck’s Big Buck (Snapping) Okra

So far this summer is promising to be a hot one. With the temperatures climbing and much of the east coast worrying about droughts like the ones they faced last summer a productive garden may seem like a mere dream. However there’s several easy tricks that can keep your plants cool, productive, and even lessen your water usage.

Install windbreaks.

Wind tearing through your garden can not only damage plants but also causes soil moisture to evaporate. The easy solution to this is to install or grow windbreaks in your garden. Windbreaks don’t need to be solid and stop all the wind. They can be quickly made from snow or pallet fencing. If you’d like living wind breaks consider tall annual crops, shorter perrenials that won’t shade your garden too much like berry bushes or dwarf fruit trees depending on your space, or hedge species. These should be placed perpendicular to the direction of the wind.

Invest in or diy some shade cloth.

Shade cloth can be super helpful for keeping those cools seaosn plants like peas and spinach producing longer. It can also be used over new new transplants that are adjusting to field conditions or seeds like lettuce that prefer cool soils to germinate.

Use a lot of mulch.

Mulch is one of the easiest ways to keep soil temperatures cooler and moisture levels up. Plus mulch cuts down on the weeding. Great mulch options include grass clippings, straw, hay, or old leaves all of which can be combined with cardboard or newspaper.

Water your garden consistently.

Your watering schedule will obviously be unique to your garden but you sould work hard to maintain moist soil conditions. Waiting for plants to start wilting before you realize it’s time to water harms your plants’ health and reduces your harvest.

Water at the right times.

Watering consistently is half the battle but you should also try to water at the best times of day. The early morning and evening are the best times to water. Less water is wasted waisted to evaporation because it has a chance to soak into the soil before it’s exposed to the mid-day sun and heat.

Practice interplanting.

Growing vining plants like watermelons, cucumbers, gourds, squashes, sweet potatoes, and nasturiums under taller plants like corn, sorghum, and sunflowers can help you make the most of your space and keep the soil cool. The vining plants will shade the soil, block weeds, and hold moisture once they’re mature enough.

Check out our The Three Sisters Garden Guide.

Build a shade trellis.

Create a trellis for climbling plants like cucumbers or runner beans and then plant a cool weather loving crop in the shade they create. These trellises are often set up so they’re slanted to provide maximum shade.

Learn more about trellising from Vertical Gardening: The Beginners Guide to Trellising Plants.

Use intensive planting.

Intensive planting is a principle of biointensive gardening. Plants are grown in beds, not rows and are often planted hexagonally. This style of planting maximizes space. Mature plants may touch leaves but still have plenty of room for their roots. They shade the soil reducing moisture loss and blocking weeds.

Note: planting intensively will work best with healthy soils as you’ll be growing more plants on less space.

Transplant at the right times.

If you’re transplanting crops into your garden it’s best to avoid the heat and sun as much as possible, for your sake and the plant’s! Transplant in the early morning, late evening, or on a cloudy day for best results. The plants will suffer less transplant shock that way.

Catch rainwater around your plants.

For transplants dig your hole a little extra deep and create a basin around each plant that extends outwards a little beyond the edges of the plant’s crown to funnel rainwater towards the roots.

For planting seeds dig your trench slightly deeper than necessary so that rainwater stills runs down into it even after you’ve covered your seeds.

If you’re feeling really productive go ahead and install some rain barrels on your gutters too!

Choose crops wisely.

Early Moonbeam Watermelon

If you live in an area with hot summer temperatures it’s a good time to start direct seeding crops that can handle the heat. These include plants like watermelon, okra, roselle, lima beans, and southern peas.

Learn about Direct Sowing Roselle.

Practice good soil and crop management.

Whenever gardening you should be thinking about keeping your soil and therefore your plants healthy. Doing maintanence work like crop rotation, cover cropping, and applying compost will keep your soil and plants healthy. Well nourished, disease free plants will tolerate the stress of hot weather much better than those already struggling.

Gardening is never easy but hot weather can be especially tough on you and your plants. Follow these tips for a healthy and productive garden even in hot, dry weather.

Michael Buck, General Manager of Hortus Loci (plant suppliers for the RHS flower shows) has pulled together his top hot weather plants that thrive in a warm summer, coping well with soaring temperatures.

Here are 5 top hot weather plants that thrive in a warm summer

Eryngium ‘Big Blue’

‘Big Blue’ will form mounds of ice grey spiny leaves that are perfect for adding texture to a border. Large thistle-like flowerheads of cobalt blue sit above a ruff of silvery bracts that sit high above the foliage on thick blue tinted stems. It works brilliantly as a cut flower and dries well for longer lasting displays. For more eryngiums to grow, click here.

Agapanthus ‘Navy Blue’

This sports bountiful bells of the deepest blue on arching stems that are tinted with midnight hues. It is a dramatic, bold agapanthus that will bask in the sun’s rays and works equally well in a container, if not better, because the more its roots are restricted, the better it performs. ‘Navy Blue’ produces flowers from July until September.

Cynara scolymus (globe artichoke)

As bold as it is beautiful, globe artichokes are loved by insects. It loves full sun but is not keen on wind so a sheltered site is recommended. Its architectural grey green leaves sprout in February, providing early interest but it’s the height and stature of the plant that earns it a place in the border. The flowerheads are the size of a fist and open to thistle-like purple flowers from summer to autumn. Their cottony seed heads also provide great nesting material for birds.

Lavandula x christiana

All lavenders thrive in hot, sunny conditions. This lavender has beautiful feathery, highly aromatic foliage that is soft silvery grey in colour. It is perfect for sun soaked days in summer when its bright blue flowers stand proud above its leaves. It’s also great in flower arrangements and good for drying too.

Erigeron karvinskianus

This daisy-like perennial should be welcome in any garden. It gently spreads and populates unsightly nooks and crannies with masses of delicate daisy-like flowers over an incredibly long flowering period, from late spring into autumn. The flowers blush demurely as they age, turning pink with their winking central eye. They are good for encouraging bees and butterflies and thrive most when savouring the sun’s rays.

These plants are available in the UK from Hortus Loci, the largest plant supplier to the RHS Flower Shows, including Chelsea and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. For more information please visit http://www.hlplantcentre.co.uk/ or call 01189 326487

For more plant recommendations for your garden, click here.

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