Vegetable gardening is more popular than ever, and people who live in mild climates have many options for what and when to plant in their vegetable gardens. But what if you live in a very hot environment, with high humidity and sandy soils? It’s still possible to grow vegetables in hot-weather climates, as long as you pay attention to certain guidelines.
- Pay close attention to planting dates. While most vegetables need to be in the ground by April in hot-weather climates, vegetables such as sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, okra, some squashes and cantaloupe can still be planted during the summer. Check with your local extension office for the correct dates for your area.
- Amend the soil. Hot-weather soils are often sandy and lack nutrients, so be sure to add organic matter, such as compost, to your planting beds. A ratio of 1 part compost to 4 parts soil should suffice. The compost will help add nutrients to the soil as well as retain soil moisture and minimize heat.
- Fertilize. Use a balanced plant food once a month.
- Use disease-resistant varieties. If your region is not only hot but also humid, fungus and bacteria are a possible concern. Your extension office can guide you on the best varieties of plants for resisting diseases in your area.
- Choose varieties that handle the heat. Many tomatoes, for example, will not set fruit when the temperatures soar, so carefully choose ones that will. One good choice is the Solar Set tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes also grow better in the heat than larger beefsteak types. Pole beans like hot weather, too. Try planting seeds of purple hyacinth beans for a summer treat. Be sure to check with your local Home Depot nursery staff for more recommendations.
- Monitor water. Vegetables need adequate water in order to produce the best yield, but too much water will have a detrimental effect. Drip irrigation is the best way to water your vegetable crops, but the most important factor is to irrigate consistently and adequately.