Not sure what to grow in your summer vegetable garden? The bright sun and warm temperatures of summer are perfect for certain plants and herbs. Find out what will thrive in a summer garden!
Summer Garden Season
The summer garden season is here, and we can’t wait to bite into some fresh, home grown produce! The variety of vegetables that can be grown in the summer garden is what keeps many gardeners growing and what entices new gardeners to try their hand at growing. The combination of hot weather and (hopefully) occasional rain makes summer a perfect time to grow.
While two of the most popular summer garden favorites are tomatoes and cucumbers, there are many other vegetables and fruits that can round out the summer garden. They can help you enjoy an organic, nutrient-rich, low-cost diet all summer.
In fact, during our garden bed installations this spring, I was very surprised at the number of people who didn’t like tomatoes. And if you don’t like the taste of something, you certainly shouldn’t grow it! Instead, plant some of these other easy-to-grow summer garden foods.
Summer Garden Favorites
There are many varieties of bean to choose from, green beans (aka string beans or snap beans) are the most popular. Select a bush variety to grow in containers or small garden spaces. Runners or pole beans to grow well in gardens that have space for trellises or teepees. (Find out how to construct a bean teepee in 5 minutes!) Beans are also perfect for getting kids into the garden. They love to harvest beans and eat them on the spot. See my complete guide on How to Grow Beans.
So easy to grow and prepare, corn grows on tall stalks but require very little vertical space. Corn will produce two ears per stalk, and the ears are great for grilling or boiling. And though you may be used to seeing corn grown in fields and row gardens, they are just as happy to grow in a raised bed or container! This peaches and cream corn is a fun one to try in the garden!
Consider also growing the Three Sisters: Corn, pole beans (which grow up the corn stalks), and squash or zucchini, which stays lower to the ground. It’s an old classic companion planting favorite!
Though not a plant you’d start and grow in a raised bed, blueberries in the summer garden add a burst of color and taste of tart sweetness. Blueberry bushes can be grown in-ground (like a flower bed) or in containers. They prefer moist, acidic soil and a location that offers them a little shade from the afternoon sun.
Plant different varieties that ripen at different times so you can enjoy fresh blueberries all summer. (Try these blueberry covers for keeping birds and other blueberry lovers at bay.) Use your blueberry harvest for this delicious and easy blueberry pie recipe!
The star of several Italian recipes, eggplant is easy to grow and will add color to both your summer garden and your plate. Plant in a sunny location (in-ground or in a container) but not in the same location as it was grown in last year. If you live in a warmer climate, eggplant will continue to grow into the fall, so don’t take it up too quickly! I personally love to grow these white eggplant for their mild flavor.
Melons of All Kinds
What is summer without slices of juicy watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew? It’s a great choice to plant and grow with kids as a summer gardening project. Choose a variety based on the amount of garden space you have, like these sugar babies if you’re tight on space.
Compact plants won’t require as much growing space as traditional varieties, but will produce the same juicy melons. We grow our cantaloupe in a south-facing flower bed. This gives them plenty of room to spread out, and they run underneath our blueberry bushes, so they’re not in the way. (And they help cut down on the weeds!)
Here’s a heat loving vegetable that is the perfect tall plant to grow in a summer garden. Upright plants don’t take up much space and produce large yellow flowers before producing okra pods. Harvest when pods are 4-5 inches long and add to soups, stews and gumbo. We love this Clemson Spineless, but there are endless varieties of okra to try!
Slice crosswise, dredge in cornmeal and fry until golden brown for a southern favorite or use my oven roasted okra recipe or this recipe for easy grilled okra. Okra is also incredibly easy to freeze for later use.
Peppers (Jalapeño and all others)
Peppers not only produce flavorful heat, they grow best in the hot summer. The hotter the better, making them ideal for a summer garden. Easy care plants grow equally well in-ground or in containers. And if you have a good crop of jalapenos, then be sure to try these grilled jalapeno poppers!
Sunflowers and Zinnias
These two bright and beautiful flowers have loads of varieties between them. They make a perfect addition to any summer vegetable garden by bring in color, pollinators, and seeds! Learn how to harvest sunflower seeds here and also how to roast them. These are a favorite for the kids!
Now you know what to grow in a summer garden! (And take some risks and grow something you’ve never tried before.) So take up what is no longer producing from your early spring garden, and get some of these fresh summer veggies growing. These heat loving plants should take your garden into the early fall (if you live in a warmer climate). I’d love to know what you enjoy growing in the summer garden! Have a great week and happy gardening!