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When spring turns to summer, many things change. Now that you harvested the cool-weather crops like spinach and lettuce, it’s time to let the summer vegetables spread out and flourish!

Cucumbers and Tomatoes are Perfect for Summer Growing

Cucumbers are well-known as a summer vegetable. Sow your cucumber seeds directly in the garden soil after the last frost. The sprouts peek above ground about the same time as the spring, cool-weather crops are ready for their first harvest. As the cucumber vines grow, train them to climb a fence or a frame trellis for support. Cucumbers produce the best yields during the warm sunny months of summer.  Pick them often to keep them coming.

Cucumbers are perfect when included in salads or pickling. You should search for traditional garden style, long English cucumbers, or shorter Kirbys. Check your seed catalog or garden supply for other varieties.

Fresh vegetables cucumber, tomato, onion, pepper on wooden cutting board

The cultivation of tomatoes and summer go together. For picking and eating right in the garden, grow cherry tomatoes. You could also choose salad tomatoes like ‘Earth Gold’ and ‘Healthy 100’s.’ Beefsteak types are ideal for slicing for sandwiches. On the other hand, meaty plum tomatoes like Roma and the San Marzano are best suited for sauces and roasting.

Tomatoes typically require up to 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day for the entire growing season to obtain maximum yields. Plant them in the spring to ensure that you experience a great summer full of juicy tomatoes. Water them often. Drip irrigation is the best method (soaker hose). Marigolds, basil, and chives are great companions for your tomato plants.

Summer and Winter Squash are Both Grown in the Summer

picture of pumpkins
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

There are many different kinds of squash. They are all warm-weather crops but are categorized as summer or winter squash. Summer squash like zucchini or yellow crooked neck is harvested in the summer when they are young and tender. Winter squash needs a longer growing season. Their skin becomes tough like a shell. Examples of winter squash are butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and pumpkins.

Give your squash plants plenty of room to vine or to spread out. They need regular watering and lots of sunshine. The first flowers to appear will be male. Female flowers produce fruits. Pick summer squash often but allow the winter squash time to mature.

Greens That Grow Well in Summer – Hint: Not Lettuce

Woman holding chard vegetables

Typically, greens are cool-weather crops. If you haven’t tried them yet, consider another group of leafy plants that survive in the heat of the summer. Chard is a colorful vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked. The same with kale and collards. Arugula spans spring into summer. Stretch out and find some more unusual salad plants that survive the heat like Mizuna and Tatsoi.

Beans Beans, the Wonderful Summer Fruit

Pole, runner, and bush are all excellent types of beans to grow in the summer. Once they start producing, you will be able to fill a pot every day! Varieties like yellow wax and purple Royal Burgundy give your garden an extra splash of color. Or try the Yardlong Asparagus Bean (best picked at 18” in length).

Move beans around in the garden each year so that you can enjoy the rewards of their soil nitrogen-fixing capability. Due to the symbiotic association with Rhizobium bacteria, the beans rejuvenate the soil with nitrogen as it grows. And much like cucumbers, they will grow upwards instead of outwards. Hence space is usually not a matter of concern.

Plant from seed when the soil warms up in late spring. Bean plants are very prone to transplant shocks, so starting the seeds indoors is not recommended. Beans thrive in full sun in moist soil. Grow vining bean plants with sunflowers and watch them climb the stalks!

Sweet Potatoes Make for a Sweet Summer Harvest

slice sweet potato
Photo by Ela Haney on Pexels.com

Sweet potatoes vary from the standard potatoes because they prefer the hot weather. You can grow several plants from cuttings, called slips, from one sweet potato. Allow leafy vines to grow out of a potato. Cut the vines off and put them in water to root. It’s best to plant them in the garden one month after the last frost.

As long as the days and the soil are dry, sweet potatoes grow quickly and soon develop into an abundance of beautiful vines that spread as widely as you allow them to. Plant with compost or manure in a well-drained environment.

If you want your sweet potatoes to thrive well and produce maximum yields during summer, then you should consider planting them near dill, thyme, and parsnips. Do not grow them next to squash or cucumbers because both vines scatter and cause crowding. If you have voles or other rodent pests, consider growing your sweet potatoes in containers to protect them.

Southern Peas, Okra, and Corn are Made for Warm Weather Conditions

Southern pea varieties include Black-eyed, Crowder, Cream, and Cowpeas.  Make sure you plant these summer vegetable plants in warm conditions, at least four weeks after the frost period has come to an end. You can sew them in the garden directly or start them indoors approximately six weeks in advance.

Plant southern peas in full sun or partial shade. Don’t let the soil dry out. Watering at the plant base can prevent the flowers and tiny pods from dropping off, as will happen with an overhead spray.

Southern peas are perfect for soil development, like many pea types. Growing black-eyed peas with other plants such as onions or garlic is not a smart idea as they will disrupt each other when close together. Southern peas thrive well when combined with strawberries and cucumbers.


Okra is a plant that loves hot weather. Sew directly into the garden after the last frost is over. In case you are transplanting seedlings that started indoors, be very careful as they have very fragile roots.

Plant and ensure regular harvest in full sun on fertile soil. Pick the okra pods when they are 3 to 4 inches long. Do not allow them to over-mature as the plants will stop being productive. You can think of melons, cucumbers, and eggplants when searching for a suitable plant to plant together with okra.


Tall and lanky, a corn stalk adds height to your garden. Unfortunately, if you want to eat your corn in the summer, you have to plant at least a dozen plants per person. This plant needs a lot of watering for a decent harvest. 

There are many types of corn, and they vary in sweetness. Grow them from seeds that you plant when the soil warms. Each plant will need about 15 inches of space. For better pollination, plant them in blocks in full sun.

This plant has many pests, so be vigilant. You are probably familiar with the corn earworm. Have you ever husked an ear of corn to find a worm eating the kernels? That’s it!


When the sun is bright and the hot weather sets in, some plants will grow better than others. Planning ahead to allow space for these summer plants in your backyard garden ensures that you will enjoy a fresh supply of vegetables during the entire season.

Which vegetable plants grow best in your garden? After reading this article will you try something new? Share your preferences in the comments below.


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