The searing sun of late summer can beat a vegetable garden down to burnt brown stems. Fortunately, many of summers' most treasured vegetables--tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants--thrive in the heat, and other vegetables such as lettuce are available in summer-worthy cultivars. Planning ahead to select heat-tolerant vegetable varieties, conserving soil moisture, providing shade for more delicate plant varieties and establishing large healthy plants before summer's heat hits will ensure that your garden does not melt in the sun.
Prepare garden beds for late summer vegetables by removing all prior vegetation and turning in ample quantities of well-rotted compost, using a shovel. Turn in additional organic material or peat moss in areas where hot-weather crops will grow to ensure sufficient medium to retain moisture in the soil.
Direct-seed pole beans and heat-tolerant varieties of lettuce and New Zealand spinach in the garden after the ground has thoroughly warmed. Transplant seedlings or nursery-purchased plants of other heat-tolerant vegetables such as tomatoes and eggplants after all danger of frost has passed. Water seed beds and transplants thoroughly, using a soaker hose to saturate the ground.
Once seeds have emerged, apply a 6-inch-deep layer of organic mulch material around the seedlings and transplanted vegetables; mulch retains moisture and helps regulate soil temperature, allowing vegetable roots to flourish.
Insert stakes vertically into the garden bed around heat-sensitive lettuce and other salad green crops. Water the garden bed deeply with soaker hose, then drape shade cloth over the stakes to provide a cool, moist micro-environment for the plants.
Plant cool-loving vegetable varieties in the shade of your tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and pole beans; when your heat-loving vegetables are harvested in late summer and early fall they will make way for a late autumn harvest of spinach, broccoli and other cool-weather vegetables.