Ready for a busy summer of gardening? Prepare yourself with the summer garden planting guide.
Yes, you can grow vegetables all through the heat of summer. Certain vegetables will thrive in the hot weather. Plant them after the last frost of the season, depending on what zone you live in.
I live in Zone 6a, so I plant my summer crops around Mother’s Day. May 10th or 11th is usually the day we are out putting the summer crops in. Also, these crops we are putting in are transplants grown from seeds in a green house or my basement.
In this post, I will be covering:
- A Complete Summer Garden Planting Guide according to vegetable planting guide zone 6a.
- Answering the question, “What can I plant in my garden?”
- Care instructions for plants in the summer heat.
Now, if you’re looking for garden vegetables to grow in your summer garden, you’ll need to read on. The following is a brief listing and care instructions of crops that can be planted now and grown through the summer.
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Usually, beets are typically thought of as a cool season crop. But, I have found a way to grow them through the summer heat by planting them in a partial shady, fertile spot.
So, I have found them best to grow on the south side of my house. There, they receive an adequate amount of sun light and shade to stay cool.
When it’s time to plant beet seeds, they need to be about 1 inch apart and 1/2 inch deep. Then, later, you can thin them to be spaced 2-3 inches apart.
Why thin the beets when they are 1-2 inches tall? Because they are a root crop and they will run out of room if proper spacing is not provided. Also, be sure to keep the weeds down. You can use a hand cultivator or simply pull the weeds by hand.
Another spring-ish crop that can grow well in partial shade is broccoli.
Another cool season crop, broccoli will perform through the summer if provided adequate partial shade. It’s all about providing a cooler environment for them.
So, when planting for the summer, select broccoli plants that are small and stocky. Be sure the seedling has plenty of root system and provide a good amount of fertilizer. This is a requirement for the broccoli to make a larger head.
Fertilize as suggested:
- Starter fertilizer at planting
- Spring fertilizer on the rows every 2-3 weeks
Since broccoli is a cool season crop, plenty of water is so important. A good rule of thumb is about 1 inch of water per week when it’s not raining.
These tasty treats are a relative of broccoli. I think they taste like broccoli, too. Yet another Cole crop you can plant in partial shade.
Choose already established plants or wait to plant in July for a fall crop.
Plant spacing is about 2 feet apart. If you love Brussels sprouts like I do and you plant multiple rows of them, plant those rows 3 feet apart.
But if you’re seeding, plant seeds 1 inch apart for proper germination. Later, you can thin these plants to every 2 feet. Brussels sprouts require:
- Plenty of water
- Plenty of fertilizer
- Proper weed control
One trick to growing amazing Brussels sprouts: If you cut the terminal bud from the plant when it is 2-2 1/2 feet tall, you should see a development of sprouts.
Another one of those hard to grow veggies. I have found carrots to grow best in fertile soil and partial shade. I’ve also grown THE BEST carrots after planting the seed tape because:
- Proper spacing
- Proper germination occurs
Also, the type of soil you plant carrots in matters. I have found the best grown carrots to be in fluffy tilled or sandy soils. This will allow the roots to emerge deeper into the underground, yielding longer and more desirable carrots.
Carrots are really pretty hardy when it comes to cold weather and hot weather. They can withstand a light freeze or a summer heat in partial shade. The past few years, I’ve planted carrots in May in partial shade and have gotten a great crop to harvest in September/October. The nice thing about carrots is that you can leave them in the ground until you’re ready for them.
So, here are planting specs for carrots:
- Plant seeds 1/4-1/2 inch deep.
- Rows should be 12 inches apart.
- Plant spacing is every 1-2 inches.
As the carrots emerge, you need to be really careful with weeds. Keep weeds out of the rows because young plants are weak and delicate. You’ll need to keep rows hand weeded to promote proper growth.
Another thing that can happen to demote growth in carrot is improper or too much watering. Too much watering at the wrong time can compact the soil and cause carrots to grow crooked or misshapen.
Let’s move into those warm season crops. The ones that can naturally be planted after the last frost for the summer in full sun gardens. We’ll start with cucumbers.
What’s so special about cucumbers? They grow really well just about every type of soil with proper spacing.
So, what’s annoying about cucumbers? Here are a couple of things that annoy me about cucumbers:
- They can spread and take over.
- You have to check and pick the cucumbers JUST the right size.
To overcome this, many gardeners are using a trellis for cucumbers! This is something I will be trying this year with baling twine and I’ll let you know how it goes.
Ok, back to cucumbers. Let’s talk about what they need:
- Warm soil temperature at planting (60 degrees F)
- Weed Free zone
- Full Sun
- Plenty of Water
- Fertilizer at 6-12 inches long
- Cross Pollination
So, let’s plant them:
- Lay down some black plastic mulch.
- Cut a whole in the black plastic to plant seed or transplant.
- Space cucumbers about 2 feet apart. Rows are 5-6 feet apart.
- You can double mulch by laying down some straw underneath the plants as they grow.
Important rules for cucumbers:
- Water is important to start setting on cucumbers.
- Promote bees to transfer pollen from male to female flower for the cucumbers to develop.
I just heart grean beans. I typically plant them after my peas are finished the first part of June. They can really be planted any time after a late freeze and for a fall crop as well.
TIP: Provide your family with a continuous supply of green beans by planting at intervals several weeks apart. Dimensions for planting are:
- 1 inch deep
- Rows that are 18 inches apart
- Plant seeds every 3-5 inches.
For proper germination, the soil needs to be slightly moist. Also, weed control is a must. You should also avoid salty soils when planting green beans.
It seems like everyone wants to grow their own herbs these days. The good news is that herbs are easy to grow anywhere. If you look on Pinterest, you’ll find all sorts of ideas for growing herbs.
Here are some tips:
- Sunny, well-drained location.
- Balanced fertilizer (not nitrogen)
- About an inch of water per week if not supplied by natural rainfall.
- Mulch to control weeds
Before planting, allow the seeds to dry in a cool, dry location. Evenly spread them through the area they are assigned. Plant taller herbs in the back and try to thin to prevent over crowding.
This is a new one we are trying this year. We already know it grows great in our little area of Kansas. Let’s talk about Okra.
Okra generally requires an early to mid-May planting time. All danger of frost should be past. You can transplant okra or direct seed. Here’s the specs for planting okra:
- 1 inch deep
- Thin to one plant every 10-12 inches
- Rows 3 feet apart
Okra will grow in almost any soil type and during hot, dry seasons. You still have to water it, though. Another care tip about okra is that it needs to be pruned with pruners or a saw. Cut it off about 12 inches from the ground to promote new growth into the late summer.
Two types of peppers: Hot peppers and sweet peppers.
A relative of tomatoes, it’s often advised to plant peppers 1-2 weeks after tomatoes. I’m not sure why this is, but I’ve always just planted tomatoes and peppers in the same weekend and they’ve done great.
But, one thing I do know is that peppers do NOT tolerate the cold. If they are exposed to cold temperatures in the early days, they may be prone to be unproductive and drop their fruit.
So, as I follow vegetable planting guide zone 6, I usually plant peppers mid May. Here are the specs for planting pepper plants:
- Set plants 18 inches to 2 feet apart
- Rows 15 inches apart.
Care for pepper plants include:
- Well-drained fertile soil.
- Plenty of water during dry periods.
TIP: Pepper plants with good canopy will shade their little peppers, thus preventing them from sunburn later on. That’s why care in the early stages of growth is important. Canopy matters.
Squashes (Summer & Winter)
Another popular warm season crop, I like to plant these at the time I plant tomatoes and peppers. You can also plant them later in summer for a fall harvest.
Summer squashes include:
- Summer Crookneck,
- Yellow Zucchini
- Yellow Scallop
Summer and Winter Squashes require different planting specs. Here are the specs for planting summer squashes:
- Plants can be spaced 2 feet apart
- Rows should be at least 3 feet apart
Winter Squashes include:
- Improved Green Hubbard
- Pink Banana
- Striped Cushaw
- Spaghetti Squash
Here are the specs for winter squash:
- Plants can be spaced 3-4 feet apart
- Rows should be at least 6 feet apart.
Specs might be different, but care is very similar:
- Weed control is a must. Use black plastic.
- Early checks for infestation of squash bugs.
- Transferous pollination by the bees.
Summer just isn’t summer without fresh sweet corn. It really is an essential part of this guide.
Here’s what you need for sweet corn to grow:
- Deep, rich soil or any well-drained soil.
- High level of Nitrogen fertilizer
- Warm temperature in the soil
- Wind for Pollination.
- Weed Control
Let’s talk more about fertilizing corn:
- Before working the soil, provide a base application of fertilizer. You can use specific recommendations from your soil test or use 1-2 pounds of 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 per 100 square feet.
- After corn is planted and emerged to 8-12 inches tall, use 3 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer per 100 feet of row.
- Plant kernels from 1-2 inches deep and spaced 8-12 inches apart in rows 30-40 inches wide.
Interesting Fact: 3-4 rows of sweet corn 25 feet long may provide corn for an average family.
Now, let’s further discuss wind pollination:
- Wind transfers pollen from the tassel (top of the plant) to the small ears developing.
- You can promote good pollination by planting several short rows.
- You know you have a problem with pollination when your ears have missing kernels.
- Different varieties together? A separation of 50-100 feet is enough to prevent cross-pollination. Also, different timings of development can prevent this since the tassel is required for pollination.
Finally, water and weeds in the sweet corn patch.
- You can easily hoe around sweet corn plants. Or use a herbicide that works well for the weeds you’re trying to kill. Note: There are organic herbicides as well.
- Corn plants need 1-1 1/2 inches of water per week in order to yield.
Next is the warm season sweet potato. Growing them can be tricky. I’ve had trouble growing sweet potatoes in the past thanks to too much compaction in that spot.
Here are some planting specks for sweet potatoes:
- Plant sweet potato plants on a ridge or mound of loose soil about 8-12 inches high. This allows for proper root development.
- Plant spacing is about 12 inches apart.
- Rows should be at least 3 feet apart.
- Note that vines spread to 6-8 feet wide.
More about soil health and sweet potatoes:
- Sweet potatoes actually grow best in moderately fertile soil.
- They also are adapted to grow well in drier weather HOWEVER
- A nice deep watering in late summer (August) will improve yields.
- Keep control of weeds early in the season before the vines become too dense.
Fun Fact about Pollination: Beauregard sweet potatoes have gorgeous purple flowers that are even more beautiful and big when bees are around.
When it comes to tomatoes, I completely recommend planting transplants. Why? Because it’s the easiest way to go, honestly.
Yes, it’s easy to plant seeds. But, if you want your tomatoes producing in the minimum amount of time, they really need a head start before going out into the elements. If you don’t want to start your own tomatoes, here are a few places you can purchase tomato transplants:
- Local greenhouse
- Garden Dealers
You definitely want to choose a full, hardy plant that is going to stand up to the elements when planted into the garden.
So, under what conditions do those tomato plants grow the best? Tomato plants need:
- Full sun for a half day or more
- Warm temperatures
- Loamy soil with a pH or 6.2 or 6.8
- Good Nutritious soil (How to conduct a soil test)
What nutrients do tomato plants need? Well, depending on the recommendations of your soil test, you can add in 1 – 2 pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet of area. Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer, such as:
Here are the specs for planting tomatoes:
- Plants can be spaced 15-18 inches apart.
- Rows at least 4 feet apart (We like to mow in between so we keep this distance the length of our lawn mower)
- Staked 18-24 inches
- Unstaked plants should have 30 inches of space between them.
- You can also use a water-soluble starter fertilizer for tomatoes at planting time.
Now, let’s talk about staking. Why wouldn’t you want to stake tomato plants?
- Helps produce earlier tomatoes.
- Keeps leaves and fruit off the ground.
It’s really pretty vital to keep the tomatoes off the ground and growing. So, here are some more tips to keep those tomatoes upright and strong.
- Choose stakes or electric fencing posts 6-7 feet tall. Drive them 2 feet into the ground and 3-4 inches from the plant with a hammer.
- Pick something strong to tie with, such as cloth, soft plastic strips and baling twine.
- Through the growing season, tie every 12 inches up the stake.
- Tie once tightly and then again loosely so the stem will have room to expand.
You’ll start to see some extra shoots that develop in the angle between the stem and branches. You can gently remove them while they are small.
A cage is also another method for supporting young tomatoes. You can make them yourself or buy them here. They are expensive, which is why I prefer to stake.
Finally, weed control and proper moisture is essential for growing successful tomato plants. I recommend using the black plastic as well as about 4 inches of straw mulch over the top around the plant.
For moisture, tomatoes require about 1 inch of water per week. We all hope and pray for natural rainfall but sometimes that does not happen. Use soaker hoses or irrigation to supply with proper moisture. Avoid using a sprinkler during the heat of summer as it can scorch the plants and the tomatoes themselves.
Who doesn’t love watermelon at that summer BBQ? You can certainly grow them yourself. I like to plant watermelon in the middle of May to be ready mid-summer.
Here are the specs for planting watermelon:
- Hills with 2-3 plants.
- Hills are 4-5 feet apart
- Rows are 10-12 feet apart.
- Plant seeds about an inch deep.
Give watermelons proper care through the growing season:
- Full sun
- Well-drained growing area
- Weed control (use a cultivator and black plastic)
- Proper pollination with bees!
With all the vegetables, fruits and herbs I have discussed above, proper and consistent care is necessary. Summer heat can be detrimental to the survival of your summer plants, so you must stay on top of watering and weeding to get the fresh produce.
What won’t make it through the Summer?
Don’t try to plant these in May for a summer crop:
These cool season crops and others are the earliest that can be planted. Even in partial shade, I’ve never been able to get these to perform during the heat of summer. However, you can plant peas, lettuce and spinach in the late summer for a fall crop.
Listen and Pay Attention Before Planting
And that’s it! I’ve given you tips and specs for planting the most popular and easy things to grow in a garden through the summer.
But before you get started, I hope you realize the fact that the majority of summer garden veggies cannot withstand cold temperatures. There are some better ways to know when to plant this list of garden vegetables and fruits.
So, if you’re asking the question, “What should I be planting now?”, then read on. I have a couple of tips for you before moving on.
My planting date recommendation of middle May is for the zone I live and garden: Zone 6. But, if you’re not from zone 6, there are some important aspects of this summer planting guide that will still fit your needs wherever you are:
- Soil Temperature will tell you when to plant. Read Here for information about checking soil temperature.
- Soil tests will tell you nutrient need of the soil.
Don’t pay attention to those “suggested dates” or even what your neighbor might be doing. Soil temperature will tell you when to plant. And your soil test will answer many questions about your garden soil.
So, I hope the above garden vegetables list of the summer garden planting guide will help you to know when to plant what vegetables for the long season of summer.
~ Much Love ~
If you’re still asking the question, “What can I plant in my garden?” leave me a comment down below. Please tell me what zone you’re in (I’m in vegetable planting guide zone 6) and I will help you get started as your summer garden planting guide by answering your questions!
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