Imagine the hottest day you can imagine, with humidity in the 90s. These conditions are stressful for humans, so of course, they are stressful on garden vegetables. Most tomatoes and corn stop pollinating at temperatures above 85 degrees, while squash and cucumbers fall victim to borers and powdery mildew.
There are some iron-clad, no fail vegetables that you can grow in the scorching heat of a southern summer. While they are not foolproof, they will withstand most of the onslaught of heat and humidity. If you only have a limited amount of space, these are the southern garden vegetables you should grow.
Okra – Okra is the best of all of the summer vegetables. A distant relative of Hibiscus, it absolutely loves the conditions in a southern vegetable garden. While it may be susceptible to powdery mildew if conditions become too humid, it is one of the easiest crops to grow in the south. Clemson Spineless is a favorite of all southern gardeners.
Southern Peas – Black-eyed peas, crowder peas, and purple hull peas grow very well in a southern vegetable garden. They can be picked green, or left to dry on the plants for dry storage.
Butter Beans – Memories of sitting on the front porch, shelling butter beans is something that southern families treasure. Lucky shellers were usually rewarded for finding speckled beans, but always knew that this was a ploy by their parents to get them to work. Jackson Wonder and its beautiful purple speckled beans are a southern heirloom favorite.
Peppers – Hot peppers and sweet peppers seem to enjoy the heat. Bell peppers may need to be protected from the hottest afternoon sun to prevent scorching, but many others do not. Jalapenos and habaneros seem to soak up the heat and spit it back out into your mouth.
Eggplant – All varieties of eggplant thrive in the southern vegetable garden in the summer. Ichiban and Black Beauty are perennial favorites, while the milder white eggplant is growing in popularity. Be sure to pick them when the skin is still shiny, or they will be bitter.
Cherry and Grape Tomatoes – While regular slicing tomatoes won’t pollinate, cherry and grape tomatoes grow like crazy in the heat and humidity. Sweet 100 and Tommy Toe are two favorite heirloom varieties.
Pole Beans – Kentucky Wonder is an heirloom vegetable favorite that can’t be beat. Not only do they grow well in the sweltering heat of a southern vegetable garden, they are prolific and generally pretty trouble free.
While frustrating at times, southern vegetable gardening can be immensely rewarding. If you grow nothing but these lucky seven vegetables, you will have a vegetable garden any southern gardener would be proud of. When all your spring planted vegetables wither and fail, these faithful standbys will fill your stomach and even your freezer.