Cucumbers peak in the summer. Several types of cucumbers are available: short; stout pickling; spiny slicing; long, thin Asian types; seedless; and a number of novelty kinds, including egg-shaped, yellow, and white.
Heirlooms are so-called because the seeds have been handed down over generations, and they are open-pollinated, meaning they produce seeds that resemble the parent plant, not always the case with commercial hybrids, which are bred for durability rather than taste. There are 100-plus kinds of heirloom tomatoes growing on vines these days, and most have names and flavors -- Sun Golds, Green Zebras, Black Krims -- as unique as their looks.
Because they're easy to grow, tomatoes are the most common backyard garden crop. There are thousands of varieties, including beefsteak, plum, and small-size cherry, grape, and pear tomatoes; all are at their most flavorful in late summer.
Famously prolific summer squash plants bring plenty of zucchini, yellow crookneck, and pattypan squash into our lives at this time of year. The mild-tasting, versatile vegetable (okay, technically a fruit) is equally delicious in savory and sweet dishes.