Common Summer Crops 

(Care information at the bottom of page)


Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Level of Growing: Beginner
Common issues: mosaic virus, bacterial blight, anthracnosebean leaf beetle, Japanese beetle
Growing tips:

  • May need a trellis

  • Can perform well in a container

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)

Level of Growing: Intermediate

Common issues: Colorado potato beetle, flea beetles, wireworms, leafhoppers

Growing tips: 

  • May require hilling multiple times to prevent the greening of tubers

Corn (Zea mays)
Level of Growing: Intermediate
Common issues: corn earworms, Northern corn rootworms, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, cutworms, corn smut, anthracnose, rust
Growing tips:

  • Best started from seeds

  • Wind pollinated; may require hand-pollination

  • Heavy feeder (nitrogen)

Soybeans (Glycine max)

Level of Growing: Intermediate

Common issues: Powdery mildew, anthracnose, root rot, caterpillars, corn earworm

Growing tips: 

  • Best directly sown 

  • Sensitive to overwatering

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)

Level of Growing: Intermediate
Common issues: cucumber beetles, spider mites, wilt, powdery mildew, leaf spot, pollination issues
Growing tips:

  • Needs a trellis

  • Needs consistent, even moisture

  • High humidity can impact yield

  • Can perform well in a container

Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo)

Level of Growing: Intermediate

Common issues: Squash bugs, squash vine borer, cucumber beetle, aphids, cutworms, blossom end rot, pollination issueswilt, powdery mildew

Growing tips: 

  • Squash bugs and squash borers can decimate plants

Eggplant (Solanum melongena)

Level of Growing: Intermediate
Common issues: flea beetles, wilt, tomato hornworms
Growing tips:

  • Very cold sensitive

  • Harvest while fruit has a shine

  • Smaller varieties can perform well in containers

Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas)

Level of Growing: Intermediate

Common issues: Fungal leaf spots, slugs, flea beetles 

Growing tips: 

  • Requires a long growing season

  • Needs consistent moisture

  • Planted by slips, not seeds

Melon (Cucumis melo) 

Level of Growing: Expert 

Common issues: Cucumber beetle, wilt, powdery mildew 

Growing tips: 

  • Need a large amount of space (unless growing smaller fruit then needs trellis) 

  • Needs consistent moisture 

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

Level of Growing: Beginner

Common issues:  early blighttomato hornworms, stinkbugs, blossom end rot, pollination issues, top problems of tomatoes

Growing tips: 

  • Indeterminate tomatoes produce all season long; determinate tomatoes produce an entire crop at once

  • Tomatoes require vertical support (technically a vine)

  • Cannot be planted near black walnut trees

  • Can perform well in a container

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) 

Level of Growing: Beginner

Common issues: Aphids, corn earworms, spider mites, root rot 

Growing tips: 

  • Cold sensitive; only plant outdoors once soil temperatures reach 60o

  • Harvest pods when 3" long 

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)

Level of Growing: Intermediate

Common issues: Anthracnose, blossom end rot, wilts, powdery mildew, cucumber beetles, squash bugs

Growing tips: 

  • Needs a lot of space

  • Fruit has a less chance of rotting if the area is mulched

  • Intolerant of wet soils

Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) 

Level of Growing: Expert 

Common issues: Calcium deficiency

Growing tips: 

  • Conducting a soil test can help determine if you have adequate calcium 

  • Need curing time after harvest 

  • Has a long growing season

Winter squash (Cucurbita spp.)

Level of Growing: Intermediate

Common issues: Squash bugs, squash vine borer, cucumber beetle, aphids, cutworms, blossom end rot, wilt, powdery mildew

Growing tips: 

  • Includes pumpkins and decorative gourds

  • Needs a lot of space

  • Some varieties may appreciate trellising

Pepper (Capsicum annuum) 

Level of Growing: Beginner

Common issues: Leaf spots, root rot, aphids, white flies

Growing tips: 

  • Love the summer heat, but can have issues with pollination when temperatures reach above 90oF

  • Can perform well in containers




Quick Care Facts:

  • Warm-season vegetables typically perform best when nightly lows are above 50-60oF and daytime highs reach around 80-90oF

  • All of these crops need full sun for at least 6-8 hours; none will perform well in shade or solely morning sun

  • Most of these crops will not perform well in our native MO clay soils. Most will need a more well-draining, nutrient-rich growing medium

  • These crops can be directly sowed or transplanted in May or started as seeds indoors in late March/April (St. Louis region; zone 7a)

  • Many of these crops (minus potatoes and peanuts) are botanical fruits meaning they form from flowers 

  • Crops with smaller fruit (e.g.: cherry tomatoes and small peppers) often produce more fruit compared to crops with larger fruit (e.g.: slicing tomatoes and bell peppers) as it takes more energy to produce larger fruit

  • Fertilizing:

    • Initially, you may want to fertilize with a balanced fertilizer or one higher in nitrogen to promote foliar growth

    • As crop production begins, start using a fertilizer higher in phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen to promote flower, fruit, and root production

  • Typically squash, cucumbers, and melons (Cucurbits) have separate male & female flowers and may require help in pollination. Female flowers will have a notable ovary (which will look like a mini-version of the fruit) at the base of the flower


Level of Growing Definitions: 

  • Beginner 

    • Not much pest pressure 

    • Overall productive and rewarding 

    • Low maintenance 

  • Intermediate 

    • Typically requires extra attention in a couple matters (e.g. watering, fertilizer, etc.) 

    • May have a higher pest pressure 

  • Expert 

    • Typically has a higher pest pressure  

    • Harvesting requires extra attention 

    • Production may not be worth the effort needed to grow in a small scale (home gardening) 

    • May require special attention after harvest for storage