Green fingers are one thing a lot of us have in common. The love of growing our own produce, using it in our meals, and an all-around well-chuffed feeling watching them turn from seed to plant unites us. However, some of us face the same problem, and that is knowing precisely what’s best to grow in the summer and how to maintain the growth of what we have planted. Well, search no further as right before your eyes, we will look over what’s best for your vegetable gardens, in your climate, this summer.
Summer Vegetables in the UK
Let’s start with a list of vegetables to plant in your UK vegetable gardens and some great tips to go along with them. Most of us love a good spud or two with the dinner but producing our own would be so much more satisfying.
The best way to start off your potato planting is to chit them. This is what people do to encourage them to grow, and you can start your chitting from around February in cooler places like the UK or around six weeks before you intend on planting. You start this by finding egg boxes or trays that are similar, place the seeding potatoes you have chosen in them with the ‘eyes’ facing upwards, and allow them to be somewhere that has plenty of natural light. Once the soil starts to warm up around April time, you are ready to plant. Cover the potatoes slightly with soil but keep them in the chitting tubes; this will help contain and aid growth. Potatoes love the sun, so try planting them in a place of your garden that receives the most.
Seeds to be sown outdoors also around April (so they are summer-ready) include Lettuce, Leeks, Spring Onions, Radishes, Onions and Garlic, Beetroot, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Spinach, and Summer Cauliflower. For most of these, you will need well-prepared soil for the best growth results. Sow your seeds for Cucumbers and Tomatoes indoors, and make sure you keep up with weed maintenance throughout the summer to contain your seeds and plants. For Peas and similar plants, be sure to give them support in the form of wire netting, mesh, or sticks.
Summer Vegetables in the USA
Cool-season crops are those that can be planted around March/April or late Autumn once the weather cools down, and Warm-season crops are those planted in the summer and early August when the weather is still nice and hot. Cool-season vegetables can go straight to seed if not planted at the correct time, so always double-check when growing something you aren’t familiar with. However, this shouldn’t be a problem if you live in a region where your weather is cool all year round.
In the USA, Cool-season vegetables can also be known as Hardy Vegetables: these consist of, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage, Garlic, Horseradish, Kale, Leeks and Onions, Peas, Rhubarb, Spinach, and Turnips. These vegetables can all be sown and planted outdoors, are able to withstand light freezes, germinate in cold soil, and still grow to the best of their abilities; they tend to stop producing when the weather hits around 80’F (26’C), hence the terms Hardy and Cool that they are referred to.
Warm-season crops, also known as tender and very tender vegetables, would need to be planted in soil that is at least 50’F (10’C); however, optimal soil temperature for tender crops would be around 60’F (16’C). The weather would then need to continue to stay considerably warm for them to be able to gain the best growth.
Tender crops should be planted a couple of weeks after the last frost, and very tender crops shouldn’t be planted until at least 3 to 4 weeks after. Tender vegetables include: Sweet Corn, Snap Beans, and Tomatoes, and some very tender vegetables are: Cucumbers, Eggplant, Okra, Peppers, Pumpkins, Sweet Potatoes, Squash, and Watermelons.
Again some of these can be sown in outdoor vegetable gardens as long as they are within direct sunlight and have plenty of room for growth; for best results, you can wait until the soil is at its warmest. Peppers are also fine to plant outside as long as they are in a warm spot, and they may need to be propped up with wires or stakes if they produce heavy plants.
For Eggplants, you can sow their seeds outside, but they will need to be covered to start with, and Pumpkins and Squash should be grown from seeds indoors and later transferred to a sheltered spot in warmer conditions.
As long as you keep up with the maintenance of your vegetable gardens, keeping weeds away and water when needed, there’s no reason you can’t succeed in a glorious vegetable-filled summer. Climates vary, so it is always best to double-check with what you are sowing/planting and keep an eye on weather updates, so they don’t spoil. We can all help the planet a little bit more by growing our own crops, and what better way than to start this summer with vegetables.