Whether you’re preparing your garden for a hot and dry season or just want to enjoy some greens during summer, these 10 heat-tolerant greens will give you some inspiration and keep a steady supply in your edible garden.
When you’ve spent most of the cooler months growing and harvesting leafy greens, edibles that thrive during the cold weather, it’s difficult to give them up during the hot summer months. Besides, who wouldn’t want a crispy salad to go with tomatoes and basil in the height of summer.
Leafy greens thrive in cooler temperatures and if grown in the heat, they tend to bolt and turn bitter too quickly before one can enjoy a decent harvest. However, by choosing heat-tolerant greens, you can still enjoy them during the warmer months.
Below are 10 heat-tolerant greens that can be grown in a temperate climate such as in Sydney.
10 Heat-Tolerant Greens to Grow in Summer
It may be considered a weed but purslane is a key ingredient in Fattoush, a Lebanese salad that includes tomato, cucumber, radish, Lebanese bread and sumac. Purslane has succulent leaves which open during the day and shut at sunset. Crunchy, textural with a hint of citrus, it comes in two varieties, green purslane and golden purslane.
2. Warrigal Greens
Easy to grow from seed, Warrigal Greens are an Australian native substitute for spinach. They grow profusely and they can harvested and frozen. The leaves contain oxalic acid and need to be blanched before eating but that’s a small price to pay for having a delicious and nutritious leafy green in summer.
3. Red Veined Sorrel
Red Veined Sorrel, also known as Bloody Dock is a perennial leafy green with a lemony tangy flavour. Harvest the leaves and eat them in salads while young otherwise it’s best to cook the older leaves.
4. Heat-Tolerant Greens: Mushroom Plant
The Mushroom Plant is easy to grow from seed or by propagation. The leaves have a subtle mushroom flavour and can be eaten raw. Alternatively, add them to stir fries at the last minute.
5. Malabar Spinach
Malabar Spinach is a tropical perennial vine that thrives in the summer heat. Grow it along an arch or a wall, and you’ll have an edible structure adding aesthetics to the garden. The waxy leaves of Malabar Spinach are mucilaginous which means they tend to be slimy when cooked but don’t let that be a deterrent. They come in red and green varieties and are easy to grow. Simply plant them neat a trellis or an arch and off they climb on their own.
6. Heat-Tolerant Greens: Amaranth Bicolour
I discovered amaranth bicolour during a visit to Paddy’s Markets in Sydney a long time ago and I was surprised at how easy it is to grow. Sprinkle the seeds over compost rich, moist soil and you’ll soon be harvesting. The two-tone leaves are delicious in stir fries or a curry and can be used as a cut and come again vegetable.
7. Garlic Chives
Garlic chives are perennial and can be added to stir fries at the last minute for a herbaceous, garlicky flavour. Simply snip them with scissors or secateurs a little higher than soil level and they will easily regrow.
8. Heat-Tolerant Greens: Old Man Saltbush
This hardy Australian native edible is a perennial plant and fast growing in the summer months. The striking silver foliage is a hint that it needs little watering. The leaves have a salty flavour and can be added to pasta, stir fries or roasted in the oven with potatoes.
9. Betel Leaf Plant
Betel leaf plant is a perennial, partial shade loving plant that is low maintenance and doubles as ornamental. The leaves have a spicy flavour and make delicious food wraps.
10. Okinawa Spinach
Okinawa spinach is a perennial leafy green vegetable with two-tone leaves that are edible and ornamental. Easy to grow and relatively pest free, Okinawa spinach claims to lower cholesterol hence it is also known as the cholesterol plant. The leaves have a slightly nutty flavour. Slice them thinly at an angle and add to cooked rice or salads for a little crunch.
TIP: If you’re growing lettuce, choose heat-resistant varieties such as little gem, lettuce freckles and oakleaf green and red lettuce, a loose leaf variety that can withstand the heat and remember to succession plant your leafy greens to ensure a constant supply during the hot months.