Popular Summer Heirloom Vegetables

Any gardener who has seen a few seasons of gardening can tell you that plant selection makes or breaks a successful season. Unless you have a greenhouse in which you can regulate the environment, you need to garden seasonally. This means growing plants appropriate to climate characteristics. Very generally, they are classified as cool-climate and warm-climate crops depending on the temperature in which they thrive. Within those classifications, plant types can be further differentiated by being a heirloom, hybrid, or GMO. For the purposes of our garden planning, we’ll discuss heirlooms.

Heirlooms are often cited as being more flavorful, nutritious, and locally adapted. They’re the result of natural open pollination of plants and the intentional selection, saving and growing of seeds from uniquely desirable plants over generations of growth. These traits coupled with warm-climate preferences make the following heirlooms perfect for a summer garden. Warm-climate crops do well in 50-90 degree weather and some can handle drought to a certain point, however a garden watering system, such as The Garden Grid™ mitigates this risk. It’s important to note: extremes and gardens don’t go well together. Just because a plant is drought and heat resistant doesn’t mean it will grow in 100 degree weather with no moisture or shade. Gardeners still have to protect them from the extremes – both freezing and scorching.

Even though spring has sprung, gardeners should already be considering their summertime raised gardens. Warm-climate heirlooms are a go-to for many gardeners, but new gardeners might not know which varietals are prime for their summer garden. If you are unsure, then read about the following heirloom vegetables that will thrive and produce even in hotter environments.

Beans

The magical fruit, beans are resilient and a great vegetable for a hot summer. Heirloom varietals such as the Purple Hull Pea (southern peas) and the Alabama Blackened Butter Bean (lima bean) will stand up to harsh conditions. The Purple Hull varietal will be ready for a harvest after 75 days, and are white with a small purple eye. The Alabama Blackened Butter Bean is a lima bean known for its resilience, and will produce through hot summers until the first frost kills it off. The beans may not look appetizing when cooked, but they are delicious and will grow through the dry season.

Image via RareSeeds.com 

Okra

For gardeners interested in taller plants, look to Cow Horn and Early Dwarf Green okra varietals. Capable of growing 3 to 5 feet tall, these heirlooms are quick sprouting and resilient to the harsh summer temperatures. Okra is a versatile product in the kitchen, and will be ready for harvest 45-65 days after planting. The only thing gardeners need to remember when planting is their preference for warm soil – so plant 4 weeks or so after the last frost..

Image via RareSeeds.com

Eggplant

These beautiful, versatile vegetables love the heat, and there are a few heirloom varietals to consider. The Listada de Gandia, the Black Beauty, and the Ping Tung Long varietals produce well in intense heat. The Listada de Gandia is a flavorful French-Italian varietal, and the Ping Tung Long is an asian eggplant known to be more narrow than others. The Black Beauty is one of the most well known heirlooms in the southern regions of America.

Image via RareSeeds.com

Tomatoes

The tomato is a favorite for most gardeners. Varieties might differ in size and color, but any of them can look great in a garden; and there are quite a few heirloom varietals to choose from. Amateur gardeners may find this especially frustrating when deciding what tomato varietals to grow for what season. Warm-climate heirlooms such as the very popular Cherokee Purple and Prudens Purple can withstand the heat and high humidity, but no tomato enjoys drought. Tomatoes need humidity, but consistent watering can easily remedy the situation. These tomatoes are ready for harvest in about 65-80 days.

Image via RareSeeds.com 

Overall, there are thousands of heirloom varieties to choose from often many that developed ideally for your geographies mico-climate. To pick the best heirloom for your garden, understand the expected climate you’ll be growing in and select an heirloom that adapts well and produces characteristics that you’ll enjoy!

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
Expert advice on all aspects of growing.