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What Vegetables Can Grow in the Summer?

By Sheri Ann Richerson ; Updated September 21, 2017
Given the right conditions, any vegetable can be grown in the summer.

You may be wondering what vegetables can grow in the summer. The answer is any vegetable can grow in the summer as long as you meet its needs. Warm weather crops such as tomatoes, eggplants and peppers thrive in the heat of summer. The good news is even cool weather crops such as peas, lettuce and spinach can survive the heat of summer as long as you keep the roots of these plants cool.

Providing the Right Conditions

Shade cloth, seen on this greenhouse, can be used in the garden to provide shade.

Regardless of whether you are growing warm weather crops or cool weather crops, the trick to knowing what vegetables can grow in the summer is to know what growing conditions they prefer.

Warm weather crops such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants will thrive during the hot, sunny days. Cool weather crops, on the other hand, will perish when the heat of summer sets in unless you provide them with optimal growing conditions.

The easiest way to keep cool weather crops thriving is to plant them in an area that receives shade during the hottest part of the day. Spread a three-inch thick layer of mulch around the plants. Compost and straw are both good choices for mulching vegetables.

If there is no natural shade in your vegetable garden area, create it. Do this by making a simple structure known as a canopy out of wood or conduit. Make a box out of 2 x 4s and attach legs to each corner. Push the legs into the ground to secure the structure. Attach a piece of fabric, shade cloth or a tarp to the top of the canopy to provide shade to the crops underneath.

Cool Weather Crops

Lettuce will thrive all summer long given the right conditions.

Peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli are cool weather crops because they prefer cool spring or fall-like conditions. These plants have a reputation for dying back or bolting, which means going to seed, once the weather begins to warm. When choosing what vegetables to grow in the summer, there is no reason why these crops cannot be included in your garden.

Plant these crops in an area where they will get shade during the hottest part of the afternoon or provide artificial shade. Be sure to keep their roots cool by mulching around them and provide plenty of water, but do not over-water them or they will perish. Most garden plants need an inch of water per week to thrive. If you have soaker hoses, feel free to give your plants a 10 to 15 minute soak early in the morning every other day unless you have had a large amount of rain. Check the soil around your plants to see if it is too wet, too dry or just right, then adjust the amount of water your plants receive.

Warm Weather Crops

A variety of warm weather crops will thrive all summer long.

Tomatoes, corn, peppers, eggplant are all typical vegetable garden crops. When planning your vegetable garden, do not forget to include these in the list of what vegetables can grow in the summer.

Plants that prefer warm weather will not mind the sun beating down on them during the day; however, it is important to keep the soil moist. Mulch the roots of warm weather crops with three-inches of straw or compost just as you did the cool weather crops. Be sure to keep the mulch away from the stems of the plants, with the exception of tomatoes. If you are using compost to mulch your tomato plants, as long as it is finished compost, feel free to put it right up against the stems. The tomato stems will root into the compost making the plant stronger.

Warm weather crops will benefit from regular watering. Soaker hoses work the best because the water the plant receives is directly above the plant’s root system and the plant’s foliage remains dry. It is best to water early in the morning before the sun comes up. An automatic timer hooked to your soaker hoses can help you achieve this goal.

Should your garden receive a bit of shade in the afternoon, this is not a problem. Although it is not necessary, even warm weather crops can benefit from a bit of shade.


About the Author


Sheri Ann Richerson is a nationally acclaimed bestselling author who has been writing professionally since 1981. Her bestselling books include "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Year-Round Gardening," "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Seed Saving & Starting" and "101 Self-Sufficiency Gardening Tips." Richerson attended Ball State University and Huntington University, where she majored in communications and minored in theatrical arts.