What are the best hot weather vegetables to grow?
Spring and fall you have so many choices for your vegetable garden, but when the dog days of summer hit, especially in the south, those choices dwindle. But there are still a few hot weather vegetables to keep you harvesting all summer long.
Most vegetables fall into one of two categories – cool weather or warm weather. While cool-weather plants thrive in the spring and the fall, warm-weather plants love the heat and sunlight of the summer. However, even plants designated as warm-weather vegetables can wither in prolonged upper 90’s and 100-plus heat.
Here are some heat-tolerant vegetables to consider adding to your garden this year.
Whether you plan to fry it, pickle it, toss it into a soup or enjoy it fresh in a salad, okra is a wonderful plant to grow in the summer garden. Not only is the okra plant self-sufficient, it adapts to especially dry and hot conditions like a champ, and is even widely considered heat and drought-tolerant in most climates.
The hairy (and somewhat slimy) seed pods are an essential ingredient in the cajun favorite, gumbo. Also called lady fingers, the original okra plant has been bred and modified to create new hybrids, each with their own benefits, but the older heirloom varieties are the way to go, as they have deeper root systems that are more suited to hot weather conditions and less susceptible to nematode problems. Spineless varieties tend to stay tender for longer after harvesting.
Another vegetable that loves hot weather and well-drained soil conditions is the eggplant. There are many varieties of this member of the nightshade family, and some, including the Mediterranean and Asian types, are specifically labeled as drought resistant.
Eggplants like warm soil, so be sure to cover your beds on cool nights. Another option is to plant your eggplant in dark containers that help hold the warmth of the sun.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Bide your time until the weather is as hot as it’s like to get in your area to plant these slightly-sweet, hot day and warm night-loving spuds. When it becomes too hot to grow traditional potato crops, sweet potatoes come to the rescue. After planting, keep an eye on the seedlings until they are established, making sure to keep the soil moist until they form into vines and begin to spread across the ground.
In around 90 days, you can start pulling up your sweet potato harvest and picking out some recipes. In the meantime, feel free to worry about something else, because sweet potatoes need little to no attention from you to sprout in abundance. Plus, sweet potato plants need no hilling, and can be easily preserved for the following summer by storing in a root cellar or similar climate.
What vegetable is more reminiscent of the summer than cucumber? All cucumbers require is nutritious and moist soil and a whole lot of sun to produce in abundance. Just a few plants will give you plenty of cucumbers for the season. You will likely have more than enough, which is never a bad thing, as you can always make a few batches of pickles to use throughout the year, or even give away a basket or two to close friends, family, or neighbors with less fortunate gardening abilities.
You usually know if you have a neighbor or co-worker who grows zucchini. They keep offering you some! That’s because zucchini thrives in the heat and, when given full sun and well-drained soil, a bumper crop is the reward for even the new gardener.
Plant transplanted seedlings or starter plants in late June or early July, allowing five to six feet between vining plants. You also can find some bush varieties that take up less space in the garden.
There’s nothing like the taste of fresh home-grown sweet corn. Contrary to what you might expect, corn grows well in small spaces, such as a raised bed or a deep container. And — you guessed it — corn loves the heat. In fact, corn will grow more quickly in warmer temperatures.
Corn takes anywhere from 60 to 100 days to reach harvest time, depending on the amount of heat and the variety of corn. You can harvest corn about 20 days after the first silk appears.