You might prefer a lazy afternoon in the shade, but your okra, eggplants, and peppers love the heat, performing their best in late summer. We planted these heat seekers in our summer garden designs, counting on abundant harvests throughout July and August.
And while it may be swimsuit-and-sandals hot, now is the time to start planning for cool-season crops. You have just weeks to get seeds going in time to grow into great fall dishes. Consider bok choy; napa cabbage; lettuce; kale; spinach; Swiss chard; and turnip, mustard, or collard greens.
To determine when to sow, count back the days from your anticipated first day of frost. Consult tools such as the Fall-Harvest Planting Calculator; keep track of your packs and save seeds from summer crops with organizers from the Seed Keeper Company; and use The Seed Garden, a homeowner's guide to saving heirloom seeds. But for now, seek a spot of shade, and enjoy the rest of summer's bounty.
2 of 6Photo: Randy Mayor
1. Hot Peppers
Small, sizzling-hot peppers, such as "Shishito" and "Padron," are perfect picks for summer gardens and plates: Simply sauté on high heat with a smattering of oil and salt. Our Sweet and Hot Pepper Open-Faced Egg Sandwiches have a great interplay of flavors with the tingly heat of cherry pepper and the sweetness of bell pepper and onion. If you prefer a milder taste, this easy technique will help tame the flame.
3 of 6Photo: Randy Mayor
Bushels of tender French filet beans, plump edamame pods, and slender ropes of Asian "Red Noodle" beans provide for creative menu options such as stir-fries, cold snap-bean salads, steamed and salty soybeans, and more. Our green bean recipes—beyond the average Thanksgiving side dish—will compliment your meals year-round. Try our versatile Lemony Green Beans, which can be tweaked for both picky kids and gourmet grown-ups alike.
4 of 6Photo: Randy Mayor
Best suited for those with space and a tolerance for itchy picking and Hades heat. Try "Little Lucy" or "Lee" in containers and "Clemson Spineless" in roomy rows. Enjoy the decorative hibiscus-like flower for its life span of a day, and then use a knife to harvest the fast-growing pods while tender and no longer than your fingers.