Seasonal Gardening Guide: Summer Fruit to Plant

summer fruit melon mix on counter

It’s not just people that love summer — plants love the warm weather, too! The long warm days and bright sunshine allow a lot of plants to reach their full potential, giving you a bountiful harvest of summer fruits by the season’s end or mid-fall. 

How To Prepare Your Seasonal Fruit Garden for Summer 

Proper preparation is always the key to a flourishing garden. While planting, sowing, and caring for your summer season fruits can be done at almost any time during the season, you need to prep your garden much earlier to ensure a successful summer harvest.

Below are several action items you should ideally check off just before the summer season arrives.

  • Inspect your garden beds for damage and for nearby animal burrows that can potentially damage your summer fruit harvests.
  • Do some general garden maintenance, like weeding, pruning shrubs, and removing damaged or dead wood, leaves, and other debris.
  • Prepare the soil by tilling it, applying mulch to prevent weeds, and adding fertilizer.
  • Clean your garden tools to prevent rust and avoid spreading disease onto your soil and plants.
  • Install sturdy plant supports, like trellises or stakes if your summer fruits need them.
  • Invest in garden or floating row covers to protect your plants against strong winds, high summer temperatures, insects, and more.

What To Plant in Your Summer Fruit Garden 

The best summer fruits for your garden will simply depend on your resources like the garden space, level of care you can devote, and overall preferences. Regardless which summer fruits you choose to grow, make sure you get high-quality seeds or seedlings. Investing in seed quality helps ensure your summer garden bears fruit.

Low-maintenance or Easy-to-Maintain Plants

If you are new to gardening or unable to devote as much time as you want towards gardening, it’s best to start off with low-maintenance or easy-to-maintain fruits. Three of the easiest fruits to plant in summer are:

  • Watermelon: Plant these on warm, well-drained, and spacious garden beds.
  • Strawberries: The seascape variety makes for easy summer planting due to their heat tolerance. These also produce a large quantity of fruit. Other varieties of berries, such as blackberries and raspberries, can also be planted in summer.
  • Bell peppers: All peppers count as fruits and are ideal low-maintenance summer crops for beginner gardeners.

High-yielding Plants  

If you have limited garden space and want to maximize the fruits of your labor, then planting high-yield fruits and vegetables is the way to go.

  • Cantaloupe: Cantaloupes are one of the best kinds of melons for summer planting since they’re hardy and resistant to many diseases.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes are actually fruits, even if most people consider them vegetables. For a really high yield, get the cherry tomato variety.
  • Cucumbers: Yes, these are considered fruits!. They’re high-yielding and easy to grow, too — producing 70 to 100 cucumbers depending on the variety.

How To Start Seeds for Your Summer Fruit Garden 

Even with good summer weather conditions and a lot of care, there’s still a risk that your seeds will not germinate or grow successfully.

You can decrease that risk by starting or germinating your seeds. Planting germinated seedlings reduces risk of them dying and boosts your chances of an earlier harvest. Two plants this works on are tomatoes and peppers.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Fill up your seed-starting pots with the seed-starting mix, not garden soil.
  • Plant two to three seeds per pot in a shallow hole.
  • Mist each seed-starting container to dampen the mix.
  • Label the seedlings then cover the pots with clear plastic wrap to maintain warmth and humidity.
  • Water and expose the pots to sunlight regularly.

How To Plant Your Summer Fruit Garden 

If you’ve prepared your garden well, the planting process should go much faster and easier. Here are a few tips for planting fruits that grow in summer:

  • Ensure you have ample garden space for each plant to grow.
  • Aim to have all your seeds or seedlings planted by July.
  • When transplanting seedlings or starts, make sure the soil is warm and loose.
  • When sowing fruit seeds directly, dig a hole that is twice as deep as the seed’s width.
  • Prevent future weeds by applying mulch on top of the soil.
  • Water your plants regularly.

How and When To Harvest Your Summer Fruit Garden 

This depends on which summer season fruits you plant. If you choose to plant late summer fruits, you can expect to harvest these by early fall or even later.

Here’s a quick guide on harvesting some popular and low-maintenance summer fruits:

  • Watermelon: Watermelons take around 70 to 85 days to mature. The fruits are ready for harvest once the curly tendrils turn brown and start to dry up. Use a sharp knife or pruner to cut the watermelon from the vine, leaving around two inches of the stem.
  • Strawberries: Strawberries usually ripen 28 to 30 days after the flower blossoms. Make sure to harvest only the fully red berries, though you can pick fruits every two to three days.
  • Bell peppers: Bell peppers take between 65 to 75 days to ripen. These break away easily from the plant, so you can either twist them off or cut at the stem.
  • Cantaloupe: Melons typically take 80 to 100 days to mature. Look for fruits that have yellow rinds in between the netting pattern. The stem of ripe melons should easily split from the vine with a gentle twist and pull.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes take around 60 days before they’re ripe to pick. Use garden pruners to cut the fruit off the vine. You can also twist the fruit until it comes off, but avoid pulling on the fruit.
  • Cucumbers: Cucumbers are generally ready for harvest after around 50 to 70 days. For regular slicing cucumbers, pick them once they’re six to eight inches long. Just carefully cut the stem around one-fourth inch above the fruit. 

Summer Specific Things To Remember When Planning and Working in Your Fruit Garden 

Hot summer temperatures during summer can end your precious summer fruits. Below are three summer specific tips to ensure your plants make it all the way to harvest day.

  • Use floating row covers to protect your plants on days when temperatures are too high.
  • You can also use floating row covers during summer showers to maintain your plants’ ideal temperature.
  • Water your plants early during the day, so they can dry out before sunset to help prevent mildew — a common issue for melon, cucumber, and pumpkin.

Wrapping Things Up

With a little bit of earth, some sunshine, and a strong desire to grow fresh produce, you can brighten up your summer with delicious fruits. As long as you care for your plants a little bit each day and follow all the tips outlined here, there you should be able to reap the fruits of your labor by the end of the season.