As spring marches on, we are getting more and more excited for warm-season veggie weather! The emergence of spring brings with it the excitement of the first plantings of the year, with cool-season veggies like lettuce, spinach, and kale kicking off the growing season. But that excitement will soon be in high gear with the heat of the summer, which veggies like cucumber, zucchini, and green beans love just about as much as we do.
Lucky for us, many of these summer-loving vegetables are also relatively easy to grow! So, whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out, you’ll be sure to harvest a bountiful crop with these easy-to-grow vegetables.
Nothing says summer quite like the taste of a refreshing cucumber picked straight out of the garden. These warm-season vegetables are super easy to grow, making them a great choice for a kid’s garden. They do best when they get a lot of sunshine and are planted in moist, rich, well-draining soil. They also require a trellis of some kind for their vines to climb up. There are different varieties of cucumbers to choose from, depending on what your end game is.
If you’re big on summer salads, then you’ll want to grow a slicing variety, which can grow up to about a foot long. Most of our customers prefer the seedless or burpless type. The English cucumber has also been gaining in popularity over the last few years. These easy to grow summer staple vegetables are great in salads or on sandwiches. The second variety is the pickling kind, which is a bit smaller, usually growing up to about six inches long. You can harvest cucumbers once they are about two inches long and anytime after that before they start to yellow. They are the most delicious when they’re a little younger, though! Some favorites for kids and adults alike are the Baby Hybrid and Patio Snackers. They are both on the short side, almost seedless and very tasty!
Beans are super easy to grow in your garden right from seed. You’re almost guaranteed to get some sort of bean crop if you plant seeds in your garden, but if you want a killer harvest, there are a few things to know before you get planting. The first is which kind of beans you want to grow; there are pole beans and bush beans.
Pole beans grow up and spiral around a vertical support (so, another one that would require a trellis of some sort), and they mature pretty slowly. Their harvest period is generally around six to eight weeks, so if you want to have fresh, homegrown beans in your suppers all summer long – these should be your go-to.
On the other hand, bush beans grow into pretty compact plants (around 2’ tall) that have a shorter harvest period. They usually produce quite abundantly for around three to four weeks. This makes them a good choice for canning or pickling.
If you just can’t get enough of leafy greens, we would like to present to you the wonder that is Malabar Spinach. Just as other cool-season leafy veggies wind down in the heat of the summer, Malabar Spinach is just getting ready to shine. It loves the heat! In addition to being one of the few leafy greens that will tolerate the heat, its foliage is also quite ornamental, so if you like mixing edible plants into your flower garden, Malabar Spinach is your girl!
While it bears the spinach name, Malabar Spinach isn’t actually a true spinach (despite what the appearance of its foliage might suggest). It also goes by monikers like Malabar nightshade, vine spinach, or climbing spinach, thanks to its climbing properties. Just like your beans and cucumbers, this is an easy-to-grow vegetable that will require some staking or trellises.
Malabar Spinach leaves have a pretty mild flavor that can be eaten raw or cooked. It holds up quite nicely in soups and stir-fries, and the plant itself produces a ton of seeds that you can save for next year’s growing season!
“Harvesting peppers involved a bit of personal preference, as they are generally best picked once they have reached your desired color and size.”
Peppers will bring your garden game to the next level. There are so many varieties to choose from—sweet bell, habanero, cayenne, serrano, tabasco, or pimento, to name a few – and all of them have a unique, tasty quality to them. Peppers are usually best started indoors, but again, if you weren’t on top of seed starting, our greenhouse will have you covered. Our long, hot summers are perfect for growing peppers.
Harvesting peppers involves a bit of personal preference, as they are generally best picked once they have reached your desired color and size. Sweet bell peppers start out green and then mature to red, yellow, orange, purple, or white depending on the variety you have planted. Yes, green bell peppers are from the same plant as the red or yellow ones—they’re just harvested at different times! Did we just blow your mind?
Eggplant, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, and watermelon are some other warm-season vegetables you might consider growing this summer here in Greenville. But, if you’re new to growing or just want to take it a bit easy on yourself this summer when it comes to choosing what vegetables to grow, these four are a great place to start. Stop by our garden center anytime, and we’ll be happy to get you well on your way to growing a killer veggie garden this summer!