The best choices for summer vegetables are the crops made to withstand the unique extremes of the season—from heat and humidity to long days of sun exposure and thriving insect populations. Depending on your location, the general planting dates for these selected vegetables may range from mid June through late July. Some crops can be started early to achieve a double harvest, while others can be planted in succession to ensure a larger yield.
Nothing can compare to the flavor of freshly harvested sweet corn, and the quicker the corn makes the transition from field to table, the better the taste. The Utah State University Extension suggests planting a new square foot of corn every 10 to 14 days to provide a continuous supply of fresh ears. Water is vital for developing plants to reach their full potential. In the long, hot days of summer, plants may require a daily watering. Weeds are not as great a problem for maturing corn as pests, disease and wildlife that may seek to steal your harvest. Gardeners should be vigilant for any sign of fungus, disease or damage.
Tomatoes need the extended periods of full sun that summer provides in order to perform at their best. Cooler temperatures at night can cause the plants to lose their blossoms. An inch of water each week will help plants sustain their growth. According to the Iowa State University Extension, gardeners may need to water more frequently when the plants are grown in soil types that do not retain water well. Otherwise, a generous morning watering is recommended.
Peppers and Eggplants
Peppers and eggplants are often mentioned together as they have similar needs and patterns. Both prefer warm to hot weather, warm overnight temperatures and full sunlight. Pepper plants require good drainage to prevent disease. According to the University of Illinois Extension, even, regular watering is critical for peppers, especially near harvest time. Eggplants need an extended period for their fruits to mature and extended days of cold weather can ruin any hope for the plants to provide a good crop.
Cucumbers need warm soil that comes with the heat of the sun. Cold can affect cucumber plants, interfering with their ability to set fruit. Their shallow roots and preference for summer weather mean they need a good layer of mulch and consistent watering. The University of Illinois Extension suggests the use of black plastic mulch to warm soil for earlier planting and warns that for cucumbers—as with eggplant—the availability of adequate water is very important as the cucumbers near picking.