Deciding Which Warm-weather Crops

Home grown vegetables win hands down when it comes face to face in a taste competition. Whether it be a psychological effect or because you know what you are (and are not) putting into your own garden patch (pesticides etc), growing your own warm weather garden gives you not just the satisfaction of a job well down, but also helps you reduce the cost of food expenses.

Some of the best gardens need careful planning. You start planning in winter for your summer crops, going through seed catalogues, preparing t he soil or germinating the seeds. If you are new to a project like this, then there are a few extra steps that you will have to take in planning for a successful vegetable garden.

Know Your Climate.

What your local climate is will dictate what kind of vegetable plants that will thrive on your garden. From very hardy vegetable plants that will survive cooler climates to tender plants that must be grown in warm weather only; you will need to find out what kind of vegetables that are not just suitable to your climate but also to your desire.

When Frost Bite Unexpectedly

Be mindful that in early spring and late autumn, unexpected frost may descend on your vegetable garden. You will need to be mindful of the weather forecasts. Also make sure that you have protectors like tarps in hand. Cover sensitive crops like squash and cucumbers, tomatoes, egg plant, peppers, peas and beans if frost is predicted.

If the frost coincides with your harvest, do not cut them while frozen as this will cause limpness. Allow the vegetables to thaw out first, then harvest. This of course will only apply to cold-hardy vegetables.

Starting Your Vegetable Garden

The type of vegetables you decide to plant in your garden depends on what climate you live in and the space that you have. They will vary according to geographical location, weather and according to how they grow.

Some of the vegetables that you can consider when planning your vegetable garden are tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, beans (pole beans, bush bean and green bean), aubergines (eggplant), corn, Malabar spinach, marrow, New Zealand spinach, okra, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Below is a table of common warm weather vegetable and their requirements for germination, spacing, planting and harvesting time that will help you pre-determine what kind of plant you can have.

Vegetable

Germination Temperature (F)

Spacing

Planting Depth

Days to germination

Days to harvest

Age of transplant (weeks)

min

opt

max

Beans, snap

55

80

90

6-4″ x 12″

1-1.5″

6-14

60

-

Cantaloupe

60

90

100

36-48″

1-1.5″

3-12

85

2-3

Corn

50

80

100

12 x 30″ or 9 x 36″

1-1.5″

5-10

60-90

-

Cucumbers

60

90

100

6″ trellised or 24-36″ untrellised

1″

6-10

55

2-3

Eggplant

60

80

90

18-24″

-

7-14

60

6-9

Pepper

60

80

90

15-18″

-

10-20

70

6-8

Tomato

50

80

100

Trellised: 24″ between plants

-

6-14

65

5-7

Squash, summer

60

90

100

36-48″

1-1.5″

3-12

50

2-3

Squash, winter

60

90

100

36-48″

1-1.5″

6-10

100

2-3

Watermelons

60

90

100

36-48″

1-1.5″

3-12

85

2-3

Tip: Warm-weather crops should not be planted outdoors until the weather is warm enough and frost has passed. You can start by germinating seeds indoors. Or you can also buy seedlings, and transplant them to your garden when it is time.

More Reading:

How Stuff Works – Starting a Vegetable Garden

http://home.howstuffworks.com/starting-a-vegetable-garden.htm

Vegetable Garden: Growing Warm-Season Vegetables:

http://www.dannylipford.com/diy-home-improvement/lawn-and-gardening/vegetable-garden-growing-warm-season-vegetables/

Vegetable Expert:

http://www.vegetableexpert.co.uk/HotAndCoolWeatherCrops.html

David Whiting; December 2006; Vegetable Planting Guide; CSU Extension, Colorado State University, US Department of Agriculture and Colorado counties cooperating.