Family Food Garden may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
Summer gardening & eating
fresh summer vegetables is so rewarding!
This post will guide you on what you should plant now in your summer garden and dealing with summer garden challenges like the heat. What is now? Now is something different to every gardener because of your growing zone (not sure what yours is? Check here). In general people plant their summer gardens in May or June.
Your summer garden warm season crops and fruit cannot tolerate frosts.
That means that if you still get frosts in March, you need to wait. Still getting frosts in May? Wait until that time has passed. You can *gamble* your last frost dates too, I always do, but not by more than a week for warm season crops. I always have hoop tunnels and frost cloth on hand just in case a frost threatens.
Summer gardening is about planting summer vegetables & fruit
This post will cover:
- List of warm season veggies to plant for summer
- Summer fruit bushes + trees to plant
- Summer vegetables to transplant. These crops are better grown (or purchased) as an older seedlings (6-12 weeks old)
- Plants that you can directly sow into your garden
- Dealing with the heat challenges in your summer garden like watering, harvesting
- Increasing heat for warm season plants to ripen
Summer garden crops to grow
The summer garden is a wonderful place. I highly recommend you grow what your family or household eats the most of so you get the freshest and healthiest backyard harvests. If you’re not sure what crops to grow or where to put your garden I have this great printable food planting guide which will help you figure out these questions.
Summer veggies can be either directly sown, or you can grow/buy seedlings
There are benefits to growing your own seedlings, especially plants that need to ripen before the fall frosts. Transplant warm season seedlings after your last spring frost. Here are some tips for troubleshooting seedling problems.
Plants that you should grow or buy as a seedling
- summer and zucchini
- pumpkins and fall squash
Plants you can directly sow OR grow as seedlings
These plants you can directly sow into your garden, or you can start them indoors too for a head start. Look at your seed packet dates and make sure they have enough time to ripen before the frosts.
- head lettuce
- swiss chard
- kohl rabi
- Many flowers
Crops you can directly seed into your summer garden
These crops you can directly sow into your summer garden, but some of them are cool season crops and might struggle with the summer heat. I’ll share with you some tips to help cool season crops during the summer.
When choosing cool season crops grown during the summer select bolt-resistant varieties
What does that mean? It means that bolt-resistant cool season crops have better resistance from trying to flower during the heat waves. All cool season plants will bolt/try to go to seed once the summer days get too hot. Crops like bok choi, mustard greens, radishes, certain lettuces and salad greens benefit from being grown in the fall instead of the summer months because they get too stressed out. In my 52 weeks of greens I discuss growing the right greens for the summer months. Here are some tips for how to prevent bolting if that is a common problem for you.
Direct sow these crops into your summer garden
- pole beans
- bush beans
- swiss chard
- malabar spinach
- new zealand spinach
- green onions
Summer fruit bushes + trees to plant
Late spring and summer after the risk of frosts are done is a great time to plant fruit trees and bushes. Make sure you water them well the first summer as they need to establish a good root system. You should also make sure you add good compost at the base of them when planting in your garden so they have a good nutrient supply. We planted grapvines up our elk fenceline, as well as blackberries and fruit trees into our permaculture food forest.
Keeping your seedlings & crops happy during hot summer days
From wilted veggies after harvesting to plant heat stress from lack of watering, summer gardening can be challenging.
Tips for summer gardening
- Watering is very important for your summer crops. Water in the morning, not the heat of the day where most of the water get evaporated.
- If your location has water restrictions from drought, mulch your garden beds to reduce evaporation and to keep in soil moisture.
- Harvest crops before the heat of the day or late evening once things have cooled down. Your veggie will just go limp otherwise. You can revive limp veggies too.
- Create shade for cool season veggies by growing underneath taller plants such as tomatoes or pole beans. Here are more tips to prevent bolting.
- Grow cool season veggies in partial shade or in a hoop tunnel with row cover to block out some of the sun.
- Plant your fall garden in the summer months. Here’s a list of 30 crops to plant in the summer for fall harvests.
- If your location is cool, increase heat for warm season crops by transplanting them under mini hoop tunnels or creating a polytunnel. This is highly beneficial for plants like peppers because sometimes spring or summer weather can be erratic with strong rains or winds.
What is your summer garden challenge?
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.