What’s the best high pressure hose nozzle for vegetable gardens? It’s actually a “horses for courses”…
When I sat down to look at the best summer vegetables to grow at home I felt a little challenged. Why?
Because I was mindful of not letting my own personal preferences get in the way.
Then I thought, “what the heck”! So the following list is what I came up with as the best summer vegetables to grow from home and save you money at the supermarkets.
I haven’t placed them in any order and with each vegetable listed, a little guide on planting, maintenance and harvesting.
I sought a little advice from some seasoned home vegetable gardeners and “mixed and matched” it to come up with the following guide.
I’m not saying it’s perfect and if you are an experienced gardener or someone with a little knowledge, you’ll probably just want to grab the list and run. That’s okay. So here they are.
Best Summer Vegetables To Grow
This list includes all six varieties of veggies from tomatoes to cucumbers. I’ve included some that are easy to find in your local grocery store as well as those you can easily grow yourself.
Being of Italian origin, these are my favorites. Yes, I know, tomatoes are fruits but did you know they are considered vegetables by nutritionists. How about that! I’m including them as an “honorary vegetable” for the purpose of making this list complete.
Tomatoes are easy to grow, delicious, nutritious, versatile, inexpensive… what’s not to love about them?!
They’re one of my favorite things to eat when they’re fresh out of the garden. You’ll want to start seeds indoors or buy plants for direct planting outside. If you do plant directly outdoors, make sure it gets plenty of sun and water regularly until the first true leaves appear.
Then give it less attention so it has time to get established before being hit by late frosts. Once the weather warms up again, keep an eye on how much sunlight it receives and adjust accordingly.
When harvesting, wait until the tomato starts to turn red; this will ensure maximum flavor. Don’t pick them too early because then the tomato won’t ripen properly. And don’t worry if there aren’t any ripe tomatoes yet. Just let nature take its course and enjoy the process.
These little beauties have so many uses beyond just being eaten raw on their own.
These little “guys” have been around since ancient times and were used extensively throughout history.
Today we use them primarily for their sweet taste but also for color. There are many different types of peppers including bell, chile, jalapeño, poblano, serrano and more.
Each has its own unique characteristics. Some varieties require more heat than others while others need lots of light.
Start seedlings inside under lights or purchase transplants from a nursery. Planting directly into soil should be avoided due to possible root rot issues.
Keep watering during dry spells and fertilize monthly once the plants begin growing vigorously. Harvest peppers when they reach full size and remove stems. Let them air-dry naturally and completely before storing away.
Cucumbers Are One Of The Best Summer Vegetables To Grow
This vegetable was originally native to Asia where it was grown for both food and medicine.
Its name comes from the Latin word “cucurbita” which means pumpkin shaped. In fact, these gourds resemble small pumpkins.
We know today that cucumbers contain vitamins A & K, potassium, vitamin B6, folate, fiber, protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, zinc, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, molybdenum, selenium, iodine, boron, and lutein.
Because of their high water content, cucumbers like cool temperatures and moist conditions.
Soil pH needs to be between 5.5 and 6.0. Seedlings germinate quickly and transplanting works great.
Water daily and apply fertilizer according to label directions. Pick young cucumbers when they’re tender enough to bite through. Allow them to cure for several days after picking. Store away from bright light and refrigerate.
Also known as aubergines, this veggie originated in India and Africa. They are considered a vegetable but technically, like tomatoes, they are a “fruit”. I’m including them anyway.
Like other members of the nightshade family, eggplants are rich sources of antioxidants such as beta carotene, lycopene, flavonoids, phenolics, anthocyanins, and quercetin.
They’re low in calories and fat and high in dietary fiber, potassium, Vitamin C, folic acid, and iron. Eggplants thrive in warm climates and dislike cold weather. Seeds can be started indoors or purchased from a greenhouse supplier.
Directly sow into fertile soil in springtime. Space plants 12 inches apart and allow 14-18 inches between rows. Fertilize weekly using compost tea or fish emulsion. As soon as leaves appear, thin plants down to 4 inches apart.
Remove suckers regularly. Plants produce flowers only when given adequate amounts of sun exposure.
Harvest mature fruit when skin turns deep purple. Cut off stem ends and hang upside down in a dark place for 2 weeks. Then cut open and drain excess moisture. Place in plastic bags and freeze. Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Use them within 3 months.
Green Beans Are Definitely One Of The Best Summer Vegetables To Grow
They are another member of the legume family.
Pole beans tend to be smaller and bushier whereas yellow ones are larger and bushy. Both varieties are excellent choices for container gardening.
Yellow beans are easier to harvest and less likely to get woody. Pole beans may develop tough pods and become bitter tasting.
For optimum growth, provide ample space, good drainage and regular irrigation. Transplant seedlings 1 inch below ground level. Provide support structures for climbing vines. Mulch heavily to help retain moisture. Feed every 7-10 days with liquid kelp fertilizer diluted half and half with water.
After flowering, pinch back flower stalks to encourage side shoots. Keep weeds under control by hand weeding or use an automatic weed trimmer. When harvesting, pick before first frost. Snip stems just above soil line. Hang up bunches to dry.
Once dried, remove strings and package in freezer bags. Freeze until needed. Green beans keep very well if stored properly.
Technically a fall vegetable but I’m including it because I’ve experienced good success planting it late summer. And because I love it!
A must-have vegetable in any kitchen, lettuce comes in many shapes and sizes. There are more than 100 species of lettuce worldwide. Some people like romaine lettuce because it grows quickly and stores well. Others prefer butterhead lettuce because it holds together better after being chopped into salads.
Whatever type you choose, always wash thoroughly before using. Remove leaves from head and place in large bowl filled with cold running water. Swish gently to loosen dirt particles. Lift leaves out onto clean dish towel. Pat dry with additional towels.
Store loosely wrapped in bags in crisper drawers. Rinse and repeat daily. Never refrigerate salad greens. Lettuces should never have their roots exposed to air. This will cause wilting.
Do not rinse again unless necessary. Salad mixes often contain iceberg lettuce which have been treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting. Avoid these types of lettuces.
Always check labels on packaged foods. Many products labeled “lettuce” actually include other ingredients such as cabbage, spinach, kale, endive, radicchio, arugula, etc. These items are not true lettuce but rather members of the chicory family.
Final Thoughts On Which Are The Best Summer Vegetables You Should Grow At Home
Okay, I’ll admit, a couple of the vegetables on the list may also be considered fruit. But I’m not “splitting hairs” here.
Also, I wanted to include vegetables such as spinach which I absolutely adore and yes, brussel sprouts and broccoli. These are considered fall vegetables, little like the lettuce plant and yes, you can plant them in late summer.
As a child growing up on a farm, I started my first vegetable garden at six years of age. My parents are Italian immigrants and guided my choice of “veggie” to grow.
Naturally, being Italian, the tomato was top of the list. Nothing has changed. And you can argue till your “blue in the face” whether it’s a fruit or vegetable.
I really don’t care. I’m just interested in growing and eating them. I hope you are too. Good luck.