Summer crops to grow in your garden (warm-season crops)

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Summer crops are often the most exciting season in the vegetable garden! Whether you’re starting a garden of your own or just want to be more informed about which crops and produce are in season, it’s good to have an understanding of the types of crops that grow well during the summer.

Summer crops, also called warm-season crops, are vegetables that grow best in hot summertime weather. Popular summer crops to grow in your garden include corn, melons, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, beans, sweet potatoes, peppers, and pumpkins. These heat-loving crops can only be grown when the weather is warm and there is no threat of frost or freezing temperatures.

There are many options you have when it comes to setting up your garden and choosing summer crops. Read on to learn all about some of the best warm season vegetables to grow!

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Summer crops (warm-season crops)

Many crops can be grown during the summer. These crops are referred to as “warm-season” crops. Here is a quick list of common summertime, or warm season, crops that are popular to grow in gardens:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew
  • Watermelon
  • Cucumber
  • Pepper
  • Sweet Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet Potato
  • Lima Beans
  • Green Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomatillo
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Basil

Now let’s look at some of these summer crops in detail!

Summer crops in the garden

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are arguably the most popular summer garden vegetables grown in the United States. There are a variety of breeds or types of tomato plants that you could grow in your garden. Smaller tomato plants like Tiny Tim Tomato are well suited for growing in smaller gardens or even in pots. Many tomato plants will continue to grow and produce tomatoes throughout the entire warm growing season.

For larger tomato plants, such as Brandywine Tomatoes or Cherokee Purple Tomatoes, it’s a good idea to get some sort of support, like a trellis, to help them grow tall and. distribute their weight. Plants that fall over have a harder time staying healthy due to soil-borne disease and moisture.

The best time to plant tomatoes in many temperate climates is around May 10 to June 15.

2. Melons

Melons can provide an abundant crop throughout the summer growing season. Cantaloupes are one of the most common types of melons. They’re relatively easy to grow and will ripen pretty quickly. Melons should be planted in sandy loam soil that drains well. They do best when they’re planted in full sun and if the soil is kept moist. They need a lot of water to grow and successfully bear fruit.

The best time to plant melons in many temperate climates is around May 10 to June 15.

3. Sweet corn

Corn is actually more difficult to grow compared to other warm-season vegetables. However, it can be rewarding all season long. Corn requires a lot of space and proper pollination to produce a successful crop.

This crop should be planted in short rows with about a foot of space in between each plant. This helps provide the best chance of pollination. Corn should be watered regularly because it has shallow roots and will suffer if its soil is dried out.

In many temperate climates, sweet corn has the best chance at growing well if it’s planted around May 1 to July 9.

4. Green beans

Beans are actually the second most popular vegetable grown in the United States. This crop can be either the bush or pole type of beans. Pole beans are vines and they need some sort of support, like a fence or a trellis, to cling to and grow on. They’re easier to harvest than bush beans.

Bush beans are smaller, grow on small bushy plants, and don’t require any support to grow.

Beans should be planted anywhere from April 25 to July 15 in temperate zones.

Squash and other summer crops harvested

5. Zucchini and other squash

Squash is another type of plant that grows on vines. They typically need quite a bit of room to grow. There are some bush variety squashes like bush zucchini and bush yellow summer squash that don’t take as much space to grow.

Squash should be planted around May 10 to June 15 in many temperate climates.

6. Sweet potatoes

Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes prefer warm weather and soil. They’re actually a sort of tropical plant. Sweet potatoes are sensitive to the cold. They grow best when they’re planted around a month after the last seasonal frost. They need a long, hot, and frost-free season to grow.

If the days and the soil are warm, sweet potatoes are easy to grow and will mature quickly. They will spread out as far as you’ll let them. They should be planted in well-drained soil and mixed compost into the soil. You shouldn’t plant them close to squash because the vines of squash spread and it can cause overcrowding and limit the yield of your crops.

Sweet potatoes should be planted anywhere from May 10 to June 15 in many temperate climates.

7. Peppers

Peppers are another plant that’s quite popular to grow in a summer garden. Sweet peppers (or bell peppers) are the most common type to be grown. These types of peppers aren’t “hot” and don’t produce any spice. Peppers are actually related to tomatoes and have similar growing requirements.

However, peppers are smaller, grow more slowly, and require higher temperatures to grow than most tomato plants do.

It’s best to plant peppers in many temperate climates between May 10 to June 15.

Cucumbers and other summer crops

8. Cucumbers

Cucumbers produce a lot of fruit. It’s also a vining plant and most cucumber plants require quite a bit of room to grow. These plants can also use a trellis if you don’t want them to take up as much space. They should be planted in rich soil and have plenty of sunlight. They should be watered regularly and they’ll continue to produce throughout the summer.

The ideal time to plant cucumbers is between May 10 and June 15 in many temperate climates.

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Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a Master Gardener and founder of the gardening website Home for the Harvest. She has been featured by Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, and the National Garden Bureau. Mary Jane lives with her family in the Okanagan Valley.