Vegetables for very hot summers

From Southern Exposure Seed Exchange here.

Beans

Tomatoes:

  • Tropic VFN (from the University of Florida) produces through very hot summers. 
  • Ozark Pink VF (from the University of Arkansas) is highly recommended for very hot climates. These blemish-free medium-sized tomatoes have very bright, crisp flavor.
  • Neptune (also from the University of Florida) is a great choice. 

Peppers:

  • Carolina Wonder 
  • Charleston Belle are both excellent.  
  • Aji Dulce peppers have an unusual, complex flavor, with just a hint of heat. They’re generally unaffected by pests and diseases, but they take a little longer to mature than most peppers.

Cucumbers:

  • Find out which diseases are problems in your area and use the resistance codes to help you choose what to grow. 
  • Little Leaf H-19 (from the University of Arkansas) has excellent disease resistance and is well adapted to very hot summers. It’s classified as a pickler, but it’s also very tasty sliced and in salads. 
  • Ashley is a slicer particularly recommended where disease is a problem, but
  • my favorite choice for a heat-loving slicer is Suyo Long(the long, slender fruits are best grown on trellises).

Summer Squash and Zucchini:

  • We recommend growing Moschata type summer squash if you have trouble growing summer squash and zucchini in your hot climate. The Moschata types have better pest and disease tolerance and produce well straight through very hot summers. 
  • Tromboncino summer squash has the extra advantage of also making excellent squash blossoms for stuffing. 
  • Waltham Butternut winter squash can be harvested small (3-5″) for eating like summer squash. (Moschata types need nights above 60 degrees F to grow well.) 

Winter Squash and Pumpkins:

  • As with summer squash, we recommend choosing moschata types when growing winter squash and pumpkins in the South. (Avoid pepo and maxima types.) Pretty much any moschata will thrive through hot summers, but particularly productive varieties are:
  • Seminole Pumpkin
  • Waltham Butternut, and 
  • Tan CheeseGreen-Striped Cushaw is from another type of squash altogether (argyrosperma or mixta). We know Southern gardeners who won’t grow anything but Cushaws: they’re super productive through our summers and their seeds are very large and tasty. The flesh tastes a little different than most winter squash and not as sweet, but it can be used in pies if you add extra sweetener.

Okra: Choose older and heirloom varieties of okra with deeper root systems. The deep roots give these plants resistance to nematodes and improved drought and heat tolerance, but these varieties also usually take longer to mature. 

Greens

  • For cooked greens, Swiss chard and turnip greens are the best choices in the South.  
  • Sweet potato greens
  • New Zealand summer spinach, and the young leaves and shoot tips of squash can all be used for cooking greens.
  • We strongly recommend Red Malabar summer spinach to anyone who hasn’t tried growing it yet. The crisp, slightly succulent leaves stay mild in high heat and maintain healthy growth all summer. The gorgeous red vines need to be trellised or caged, but this keeps the leaves clean. They’re excellent as cooking greens and in salad mixes.

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