By Jeff Ray

(CBSDFW.COM) – When the summer heat sets in most of us hunker down and keep the garden tasks to watering, weeding and surviving. This despite the fact of so many North Texas landscapes STILL full of blank spots from the historic arctic cold blast of last winter.

Last summer I had a 14-foot long, 7-foot high trellis completely covered in passion vine. This summer I’m looking at an empty wood frame as my newly planted clematis slowly take their place.

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I’m betting it’ll take three to four years for the two climbing flower vines to cover what my passion vine did in two.

There are some edible options to plant in summer. Melons are one of my favorites.

To be honest, I don’t really plant them for the fruit, it seems the rodents get to them before I do anyway. I plant them because they quickly sprawl out and cover an empty bed, producing a carpet of large green leaves.

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This keeps my soil for blowing away or getting baked in the summer heat. The less sunlight absorbed by the ground the cooler your yard is. I would rather grow an attractive plant then to give up the space to weeds.

Daniel Cunningham of Rooted-In showed me last week some excellent ideas of what you can plant in the Texas heat. I put in okra every year, heat doesn’t seem to bother this plant at all.

The same could be said of chowder peas like purple hull. If you can your peppers through the worst of the heat, they’ll reward you staring in early fall with a bumper crop.

Fill that space with something you can eat later. Growing your own food is one of the many benefits of gardening, it just happens to be one that you can readily share.

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Next week: planting some summer color in the middle of the summer heat.