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Heat Tolerant Vegetables that Thrive in Blazing Summertime Weather

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Opting for heat tolerant vegetables in your garden can be the difference between success and failure in some regions. If you live in a hot climate, like we do here in Texas, it can be a challenge to grow much of anything during the summer months.

Armenian cucumbers, top; New Zealand spinach bottom. Text: Heat tolerant vegetables

This is the glory of the year for many in northern climates – green grass, lush gardens, regular rainfall. But for this dry and arid climate, it is a bit like a hot winter – a difficult time of year for the garden and often the homesteader.

While lettuce and beets and carrots and even tomatoes don’t do so well in the hot, dry summers we have, there are a bunch of things that do withstand the extreme conditions. Some of these are southern staples, others just a specific variety that seems to withstand the triple digit days better than others.

All of these heat tolerant vegetables are delicious and perfect for eating as well as preserving.

okra plant -- one of the great heat tolerant vegetables

Okra

If you’ve only ever had okra sliced and fried, consider trying different cooking and preserving methods. Notoriously “slimy”, this pod goes crazy for hot days and sleepless, warm nights. Fermented or vinegar-brined into pickles is a kid-favorite in our house. Roasted and thrown into stews is our other favorite way to eat them. Look for spineless varieties that remain tender longer. Okra benefits from a good soak before planting.

Eggplant

These heat tolerant vegetables are a member of the nightshade family and absolutely has to have heat to thrive. There are many varieties and are often categorized into their indigenous locations – Italy, Thailand, or Japanese. Look for varieties that aren’t bitter and, if your climate is also dry, look for drought resistant varieties.

Green cowpeas in the shell, on a wooden deck

Cowpeas

Another southern staple, and for good reason. We have always had a hard time growing traditional green beans through the summer, but not good old black-eyed peas. These guys reach for the sun on the hottest of days and produce like mad when nothing else will. Look for a good-tasting, stringless variety, if you can, as they are not nearly as tender as green beans. Pick them young for a green bean harvest or shell them as they get a bit older.

It might look like a science project, but sprouting a sweet potato like this is the first step to growing them.

Related: A Drought-Tolerant Veggie Garden: Waterwise Techniques

Sweet Potatoes

One of those southern staples, sweet potatoes thrive on hot days and warm nights. When it’s too hot to grow white potatoes through summer – and it is here in Texas – sweet potatoes step in as a staple crop set for a fall harvest. They receive bonus points for not needing any hilling and preserving themselves when stored in a root cellar or similar climate.

And did you know you can eat the sweet potato greens in salads and stir-fries? They’re deliciously mild!

armenian cucumbers in a pile

Related: Edible Front Yard Landscaping: Pretty Enough to Fool Your Homeowners Association

Armenian Cucumbers

While all other cucumber varieties wilt in our summer heat, this long, snake-like cucumber keeps flowering and producing all summer long. Genetically a melon, it has great cucumber flavor, is perfect for salads, and can be used to make canned pickle slices with great results. Pick at around 18″ for best results.

tomatillo plant from above, showing leaves and yellow blossoms - one of the great heat tolerant vegetables

Tomatillos

There is a reason that some areas in Mexico use tomatillos rather than tomatoes as their staple salsa base. These guys love the heat, are prolific in nature, and produce little green fruits with a husk abundantly. They are great for salsas, sauces, and even dressing pasta. [More on growing tomatillos here.]

close up of new zealand spinach - one of the great heat tolerant vegetables

New Zealand Spinach

This is not technically a spinach but because it is not, it continues to produce heat tolerant greens even through summer. It has a notoriously low germination rate so consider soaking seeds before planting. When harvesting, use the greens in salads, soups, and other cooked dishes.

Plant some heat tolerant vegetables!

This list encompasses heat tolerant vegetables you can plant now, even in 95-100 degree days. They will germinate and thrive through the summer heat if given a good start. There are many vegetables that will do tolerably well in the heat but should be started earlier in order to make it in a hotter climate such as tomatoes, winter and summer squash, sunflowers, and more.

The one thing to keep in mind is how much of your growing season remains. If you are in a hot climate, you most likely still have through October or November to get growing, giving you 4-5 more months.

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Meet the Author

Shannon Stonger

Shannon Stonger is the founder of the blog Nourishing Days, where she shares her family's journey towards sustainability. She is the author of The Doable Off-Grid Homestead, Traditionally Fermented Foods, and the sourdough baking book 100% Rye. She holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and lives with her husband, five children, and various farm animals on their five-acre homestead in Texas.

2 comments… add one
  • Kenneth J. Demel Jul 18, 2019, 1:23 pm

    What part of Texas are you in? Our garden is in Fort Bend County. And it is hot. The only things standing in the garden Asparagus (yard long) beans, Simpson Okra, sweet potatoes, and climbing spinach.

    • Andrew Garza Sep 13, 2019, 9:55 am

      Galveston county here, trying new things out in my second year of gardeing, tomato’s slowed down but not out ,just planted cucumbers, peppers, tomato’s, squash and in a month it will be beans , spinich and lettuce when it cools down, good luck

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