Summer-Loving Vegetables

Wayne Hobbs
Posted 5/23/18

For Publishing on or After May 25th, 2018

By Wayne Hobbs, Environmental Horticulture Agent, Clay County

Growing up in the Northeast, I always helped my grandparents in their extensive garden …

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Summer-Loving Vegetables


For Publishing on or After May 25th, 2018

By Wayne Hobbs, Environmental Horticulture Agent, Clay County

Growing up in the Northeast, I always helped my grandparents in their extensive garden and May was our main time of work. With frost being a danger, we would often wait until early to Mid-May to plant, with Memorial day always being the cut-off for planting. However, as any Florida gardener will tell you, we deal with a whole different animal with our summers.

At this point, we are starting to stare down a sweltering summer and most vegetables just cannot take the heat. However, a few stalwarts are planted in summer and can thrive.


A southern mainstay, okra is one of the few vegetables that we plant in summer. Technically, it is a member of the same family as a hibiscus and they are usually planted by seed or transplant in March to June. Outside of the produce, most varieties have very attractive flowers as well.

Liking full sun and well-drained soil, they will grow throughout the summer and are usually ready to harvest about 60 days after planting, when pods are 2-3 inches in length. Pick the pods early and often, as the older ones become tough and remember to use gloves and clippers, so you don’t get pricked by the plant’s hairs.

Southern Peas

Southern peas are another staple of southern food, including cream, crowder, and black-eyed varieties. They are usually seeded in April through July and will withstand our harsh summers. While they are drought tolerant, mulching around the base of the plants can help with moisture loss.

After about two and a half months, pods should be ready to be picked and this should be continued throughout the growing season to encourage more flowering and food production.

Sweet Potatoes

Another great performer in a summer garden is a sweet potato. This vining vegetable is started from slips, which are new plants grown from cut sweet potatoes, in March through June and will spread heavily in the garden. The root crop takes about 3-4 months to fully mature but each plant can have a great yield.


The final crop we are taking a look at in this article is the pepper. These cousins of the tomato (which definitely does not like our summer), grow well in sandy, well-drained soil. Many varieties are available but for the best results, check out the varieties suggested in the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide at At this point, wait until July to start your next crop so you will have fresh peppers in the early fall.

While summer is often a dead time for the Florida garden, you do have several options to pass the time until August, when fall crops can be planted. Pumpkins are another summer crop but they will be covered in their own article in a few weeks.

Another option is to cover your garden areas through the season with clear plastic that is well sealed on all sides. This process known as solarization can help to kill diseases and weeds in the soil and prep your garden for the future.

If you have any horticultural, agricultural, 4-H, or family and consumer science questions, contact the University of Florida/IFAS Clay County Extension Office online at or call by phone at (904)284-6355.


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