Vacation may be off the table this summer again (at least to anywhere international). And, you’ve already caught up to all your TV shows and movies. Now what? In honor of National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, we’ve got a new hobby for you to try: gardening! June is prime planting time, and we’ve selected 12 summer fruits and vegetables you can start planting today that are easy to grow and maintain.
Refreshing. Versatile. Easy-to-grow. Basically, you can’t go wrong with planting cucumbers in your garden this summer. Find a patch of space in your garden that has lots of sun and can be watered frequently. Cucumbers are one of those crops that can grow prolifically even when you don’t have the greenest of thumbs. The key is to keep them watered and give them plenty of nutrients in the soil, especially after they start producing cucumbers. Once they start growing in, you’ll have an entire summer to enjoy cucumber salads or even using them in your next at-home spa treatment.
2. Bell peppers
We don’t know about you, but we love a well-roasted bell pepper. They’re sweet and easy to grow. Depending on where you are, bell peppers may be ready to plant in your garden right now. The general rule is to wait until temperatures are consistently over 60 degrees since they can be sensitive to the cold much like cucumbers. Bell peppers grow best in hot weather and fertile soil. Opt for fertilizers that are especially for tomatoes and vegetables instead of a general garden fertilizer. You want to look for fertilizers that are rich in calcium and phosphorus to ensure that your bell peppers will be plump and sweet.
Botanically, tomatoes are defined as a fruit, but nutritionally, tomatoes contain all the good stuff that’s in vegetables. But one thing for sure is that tomatoes are a juicy must-have in a good summer sandwich or salad. Tomatoes come in a wide variety. You can choose smaller cherry tomatoes to plant for snacking and salads or larger beefsteak tomatoes for burgers and pasta sauce. There may be some variation in how to grow your tomatoes depending on the type you choose, but generally, tomatoes love hot weather and direct sunlight. Keep them in a plot of your garden that is almost always directly under the sun. You will need a trellis or cage to keep your tomato plant upright.
Zucchinis and other soft-skinned, summer squashes are one of the easiest vegetables you can grow in your garden. Grill them during barbecues, fry them as a fritter, there are so many yummy ways to cook zucchinis. On top of being easy to care for, once your zucchinis start growing, they really grow. You may find that your healthy zucchini plant will be producing more than you can eat, which makes them the perfect vegetable to share with your friends and neighbors. Like the other vegetables on our list, zucchinis love the sun and fertile soil. If you get the variety that grows on long vines, note that they will spread across your garden and may get into some of your other plants. A good way to keep them organized is to get the bush variety and install a trellis. Keep your zucchini plants moist but not overwatered, and keep in mind that you want to harvest your zucchinis as soon as they reach their maturity. The longer and bigger they grow means the tougher their skins will be to eat.
5. Sweet corn
Something about having corn on the cob just feels like the epitome of summer. If you have the space in your garden, plant some corn in “hills”, which means planting in clusters, to enjoy all kinds of corn recipes this summer – the simple corn on the cob, corn fritters, and even popcorn. Depending on your region, it may be a little late to plant sweet corn that takes a while to grow. If you’re farther south, find sweet corn varieties that will have a shorter growing season. If you’re farther north, you’ll want to plant sweet corn as soon as you can.
6. Green peas and sugar peas
For those of you farther up north near Michigan, Maine, or Colorado, peas are still in season. Green peas and sugar peas prefer cooler temperatures, so if you live in a southern state where summer gets hot, you may have to settle with growing peas indoors in a pot. Peas grow best in temperatures around 55-65 degrees. They require well-draining soil and some fertilizer to start.
7. Herbs – thyme, basil, oregano, and sage
Herbs can be grown year-round indoors, but herbs like thyme, basil, oregano, and sage thrive outdoors during the summer. Keep the soil moist and be careful not to overwater. Use fertilizer to help them grow quicker, but most herbs will grow quickly even without the help of fertilizer.
8. Watermelons and other melons
If you’re in for a challenge this summer, try growing a watermelon or another melon like honeydew or cantaloupe. A nice cold melon is a staple for any summer picnic and barbecue, so you’re hard work will definitely pay off in the end. Watermelons have a long growing period, meaning they take a while before you can harvest their fruits. Water them frequently and use nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Other melons like honeydew and cantaloupe grow especially well in southern, hot climates. And like the watermelons, you should plant them in rows and keep their soil fertilized and moist throughout their growing season.
Looking for a crop that’s a little less maintenance? Carrots can be planted mid-June and last in your garden until you’re ready to dig them up and eat them, all the way until the end of summer and sometimes until the colder months. Keep the soil well-drained and avoid rocky soil. Remember to weed your garden around the carrots often so your carrots get all the most nutrients they can from the soil.
Okay, maybe not everyone likes beets. But this might the time to give them a second chance. They’re super nutritious and juicy in a salad. Beets are relatively easy to grow for any first-time gardener. They grow best in partial shade with deep, well-drained soil. Like carrots, you want to keep the soil well-watered and free of weeds that may suck up essential soil nutrients from the beets.
11. Green beans
Another crop that grows relatively quickly and easily is green beans, and they taste scrumptious sauteed with some garlic. Plant green beans in areas with lots of sun, and opt for a bush bean and a pole to save on space in your garden. Letting the green beans grow vertically on a pole also helps them grow straighter, making them easier to pick. You can skip out on the fertilizer on your green beans, but you do need to water them frequently, especially during hot, dry summer days.
The last crop on our list is the good old-fashioned cabbage. They’re easy to grow due to their robustness. Cabbages have a long growing season, and most often, they’re planted as seeds in the spring. Start planting cabbage now, and they’ll be ready to be enjoyed in late summer and early autumn.
Do vegetable gardens increase my home value?
That depends. Your future buyer may go “wow, what a beautiful vegetable garden, but that’s too much of a commitment for me”. Or, they may love your vegetable garden and want to buy your house right away so they can start gardening. It’s really up in the air. The general rule we advise a lot of our sellers on is that gardening is not for everyone. If you start incorporating a lot of maintenance-heavy plants in your garden or landscaping, the chances are that you’re going to scare away someone who wants to buy your home otherwise.
This shouldn’t stop you from picking up gardening as a new hobby though! But this should stop you from spending thousands of dollars on creating the most beautiful vegetable garden, thinking it might add value to your home later on. Start your dream garden, go all out if you enjoy gardening, but know that you may have to tear your beautiful vegetable patch down if you want to sell your house in the future.
Serena Yan worked as a digital content producer at Marketplace Homes in 2021 and contributed many insightful pieces of content to the MPH blog. During her time at Marketplace Homes, she researched the real estate market, analyzed trends to streamline Marketplace Home’s marketing strategy, and found ways to best engage target audiences. Through writing blogs with topics ranging from market trends to home living, she contributed a lot to the early stages of this blog. Thank you, Serena!