If you live in a hot summer climate, you may be concerned about the condition of your plants and how they will fare under the weather. A good way to prevent them from wilting is to choose plants suited to your environment. Some plants prefer shade or partial shade, while others thrive in full sun, which are locations that directly receive at least 6 hours of sunlight. Locations with full sun are usually the south side of your house or areas where there are no tall trees. To determine whether the area has full sun, observe it periodically from morning to mid-morning until dusk. Typically, most full-sun locations receive sunlight from at least 10 AM to 5 PM.
After you have determined which areas are full-sun, it is time to start planning what kinds of vegetables to grow. Below is a list of easy full-sun plants to grow for your summer garden. For those wanting to save time and money, consider purchasing raised garden beds for easy planting. Vego Garden has a collection of metal raised garden beds with various shapes and heights, including a 32" series, to accommodate gardeners of all skill levels.
Plant squash after the danger of frost has passed, from early spring until midsummer. Yellow squash is recommended due to its versatile uses – it can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. While the term winter squash might mislead gardeners into believing that it can be grown in the winter, all squashes are warm-weather vegetables and will not tolerate freezing temperatures. Winter squashes derive their name from their thick, protective rind that allows for better storage over the winter months. Squash grows best in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Before planting, amend the top 6 inches of soil with a 3-inch layer of compost.
Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to grow, especially for beginners. Available in a wide range of colors and shapes, they are a versatile addition to any garden. Their bright color and refreshing flavor beckon you to take a bite straight from the vine. If you want small, compact plants, choose cherry tomatoes, which are small enough to consume whole and are great additions to salads. You can also grow heirloom tomatoes, which are open-pollinated cultivars that have been passed down through generations. For those seeking something unique, try growing black colored tomatoes, whose striking dark colored skin sets them apart from other tomato varieties.
- Sweet corn
Cornfields, common in the Midwest, feature endless rows of corn stalks swaying in the wind. The reason they are planted in rows is because corn is self-pollinated by the wind. Even if you do not live on a farm, it is possible to grow sweet corn in your backyard, as long as you select the appropriate variety. For the average gardener, raised garden beds are recommended, as they allow you to plant corn in thick, short rows. Some varieties suitable to grow in a raised bed include Ambrosia, Jubilee, and Honey Select. Since corn is a heavy feeder, fertilize and water it regularly. Seeds should be planted 5 – 10 inches apart in the row, with the space between rows 2.5 – 3 ft apart. Plant popcorn varieties, which are harvested later than regular corn, for a fun experience.
All types of melons thrive in heat, including cantaloupe and honeydew. If you find the taste of cantaloupe unpleasant, you can also choose watermelon, an iconic summer fruit. While melons are considered fruits, they actually belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes cucumbers, squash, gourds, and pumpkins. While squash and melons can be planted together, it is not recommended that you plant them in the same place repeatedly, as they are susceptible to shared pests and disease. To ensure sweeter watermelons, water heavily until the final 2 or 3 weeks before harvest, when you should refrain from watering, as excess water will dilute the sugar content. A soaker hose or drip irrigation system is suggested, as overhead irrigation can encourage the proliferation of fungal disease.
- Sweet Potatoes
Known for their deep orange flesh, sweet potatoes are a popular dessert vegetable in southern cuisine. Texas is considered one of the best climates for growing sweet potatoes, which are tropical in origin – its hot summers and high humidity make for excellent growing conditions. Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes are cold-sensitive and prefer warm weather. Ideally planted a month after the last frost date, sweet potatoes take 90 – 170 days to mature. Root vegetables and aromatic herbs such as dill, thyme, and oregano make good companion plants for sweet potatoes. Avoid planting them next to squash, as their vines can spread and cause overcrowding. Due to their propensity to spread, you can plant them in a raised garden bed that is at least 12 inches deep.
Intensely flavorful, berries like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries make wonderful additions to pies, smoothies, and other sweet desserts. For best results, plant in full sun in well-drained soil. Look for varieties that produce fruit for a long time and are suited for container planting, such as Blackberry Baby Cakes, Alexandria, and Raspberry Shortcake. Companion plants that are often planted alongside strawberries include asparagus, nitrogen-fixing plants such as legumes, lettuce, garlic, and onion. Raspberries benefit from being planted next to alliums like onions and chives and cover crops such as oats and grasses.
Peas are a tasty, low-maintenance vegetable to grow in your garden. Although they are usually planted in spring, depending on your climate, you can plant them during mid or late summer for a fall crop. Shelling varieties do not have edible pods while snow peas and snap peas can be eaten with the pod. Mulch with organic matter to retain moisture and water ½ inches a week. Once they form flowers, increase watering to 1 inch a week. Vining varieties will need a trellis or other support structure to ensure an easier harvest and more produce.
Although pumpkins are often thought of as a fall plant, they enjoy the warm temperatures of summer. Commonly used in pies and fall decorations, pumpkins have been cultivated for over 5000 thousand years in the Americas. Since they are prolific spreaders, ranging from needing 2 ft to as much as 6 – 8 ft of space, choose compact or miniature varieties if you are worried about space constraints. They are very sensitive to cold and should not be planted until the soil is between 70 – 95ºF. Usually planted in rows or hills, which warms up the soil faster, pumpkins can also be grown in raised beds, which serve a similar function in increasing soil temperatures.
Available in a multitude of shades of green, red, yellow, and orange, peppers are one of the easiest full-sun vegetables to grow. With flavors that can range from mild to extremely spicy, peppers are often added to wing sauces, pizzas, and salsas. While many peppers are initially green, their nutrition content and flavor improve as they mature and change color. Red peppers are a good source of Vitamin A. Most varieties thrive in sandy loam with high levels of organic matter. Consider planting a pizza themed garden by growing peppers with tomatoes, onions, basil, and parsley.
Many herbs, including chives, basil, sage, and parsley, require full sun. Fresh herbs can be grown in a variety of locations, from the windowsill to containers. Vego Garden has a small garden collection suited for growing herbs, ideal for those living in urban environments and have a limited amount of space. Basil is a summertime staple popular in Italian cooking, while chives are used to bring an onion taste to spreads, dips, and cheese dishes. Dill has a unique, pungent flavor that pairs well with salmon or a cream-based dip. Mint is a diverse and refreshing herb that is often used as garnish or flavoring to sweeten teas and desserts.