Texas Living

Vegetable gardening when it’s still hot outside

By Leslie Finical Halleck 8.5.13

Although it’s hot, you might think it’s too late to do any planting in the veggie garden. In fact, many warm-season crops thrive when direct seeded into the garden during summer. Large-seeded crops like yellow squash, zucchini, melons, and beans will germinate quickly and catch up quickly to spring planted crops. It’s also a good time to direct seed or plant transplants of eggplant, okra, and peppers.

In order to maximize your garden space, plant dwarf or bush-type vegetables. Bush squash and zucchini, such as the ‘Eight Ball’ variety, will grow to only about 3-feet tall to 4-feet wide, versus vining types that can easily grow to 15-feet or more. Bush type beans, such as ‘Bush Blue Lake,’ and cowpeas typically grow to only about 18-inches tall, making them perfect for tucking in between other crops. You can also find dwarf varieties of okra, such as ‘Little Lucy,’ that reach a maximum size of about 2 feet. But don’t let their diminutive size fool you: these dwarf plants will produce just as much fruit as their vining cousins, but in a fraction of the space. None require staking and all can be grown in containers.

And while it is too late for this year’s planting season, for next year, late June through mid-July is the perfect time to plant your fall crop of tomatoes in Texas. ‘Golden Mama’ is one of my favorite dwarf tomato varieties; it produces a bounty of yellow paste tomatoes on 3-foot plants. If you have room for full-sized tomato plants, give the ‘Mighty Mato’ series a try. These new tomatoes are grafted onto a tougher root stock, resulting in more vigorous plants and heavier fruit set.