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Heat Loving Vegetables to Grow this Summer
While we never know ahead of time what the summer will bring, we can generally assume it will be: warm. Many lately have been downright hot! With that in mind, it doesn’t hurt to plan your garden with plenty of heat loving vegetables.
Note that a few of the following plants, like eggplants and tomatoes, are technically fruits. But we usually lump them in with vegetables long before we’d consider them part of the blueberry and apple world!
Here are just a few that you should look into planting this summer:
Corn is a great vegetable for hot weather. Daytime temperatures from about 70 to 90 degrees are perfect for corn plants. However, if there’s an extended period of 95+ degree days they may begin to wilt, especially if they aren’t watered. While they love the heat, they need ample moisture to produce the juicy, tender kernels that we love, so be sure to water them thoroughly during a dry spell.
If you have extra space in your garden, cucumbers can be an awesome warm weather addition. Cucumbers thrive in abundant sunshine and 75-85 degree temperatures. Just one plant will yield many cucumbers during a good year, but that’s okay, because whatever you don’t use in fresh salads can be turned into pickles!
Eggplants don’t just love the heat – they require it! An extended temperature range of 80-90 degrees and full sun, with nights no cooler than 60, are necessary to produce large fruits.
Start eggplants indoors or buy them from a greenhouse to make sure they have an ample growing season.
Okra is commonly grown in the south, so as you’d expect it falls solidly into the heat loving vegetables category. It needs about 2 months of growing time in 65 – 90 degree temperatures to thrive, and the hotter end of that range is just fine.
You may want to start the plants indoors ahead of time – the growing season in the northeast is often too short for direct sowing.
Peppers do well in very hot summers and like temperatures ranging from 70 all the way to 95 degrees depending on their variety. They can grow happily even as far south as zone 11, so our moderate northeast summers probably feel chilly by their standards! Both bell peppers and hot peppers grow well in heat. Start them indoors for the best results.
Zucchinis and yellow squash are big fans of hot weather! When they get plenty of heat, sun, and water, they can produce a harvest larger than you can probably use. The good news is that you can always freeze them or make a meal with them, like this zucchini beef skillet.
Zucchinis and yellow squash are both easy to grow and take care of as long as you have the space. Here are a few tips on how to grow summer squash.
If you expect a warm summer, you may want to try your hand at growing sweet potatoes. These vegetables love hot weather, as evidenced by their popularity in the South. They require 75-95 degree days for optimal growing, which might not sound too crazy… until you learn that they require 100-150 days to grow!
Here in the northeast, you can put up a temporary greenhouse over your sweet potato beds to extend the growing season and get a full harvest.
One of the most popular warm weather plants is tomatoes. Tomatoes grow well at daytime temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees.
While heat isn’t usually a problem for tomatoes, pests are… as well as a nasty blight that can kill them and potatoes every year when left unchecked. Make sure you watch for the signs.
Water Needs of Heat Loving Vegetables
While all of these plants enjoy heat, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and many others should all be watered plentifully. You may also wish to use mulch around them to help hold the moisture on extra hot and dry days.
Choosing the Right Varieties
Some subspecies and varieties are more suited to heat than others. If you think you’ll have an exceptionally warm summer, consider getting southern varieties, which are the most heat tolerant vegetables of all.
When in doubt, always consult your seed packet or the nursery you purchased from. They will give you all the information you need about your vegetable’s variety and heat/watering needs, as well as the growing window for your zone.