Planting a Garden in Succession

Michelle RobertsGardening, Planting Tips

succession-planting

One of the challenges of gardening is planting so that you can enjoy your harvest throughout the season.  In the excitement of planting a garden, we don’t often consider planting in succession so everything doesn’t ripen at the same time.

What often happens is we enjoy the first few pickings, then we are challenged with consuming the whole row within a couple of weeks, or finding neighbors and friends to share the harvest before it gets too mature.  For those who are going to preserve their fruit and vegetables, this really isn’t a problem, but if it isn’t something you’re planning on preserving, you want to plant so you can harvest the whole season long.

Although it seems like such a hassle to continuously be planting, or to plant numerous varieties of the same thing, it is well worth the effort.  After waiting weeks for vegetables to mature and then to have it gone so soon can be discouraging. Succession planting solves the problem of too much all at once and then nothing.

Not every vegetable needs to be planted in succession, nor can it be.  Some require more than 100 days to mature.  That is most of the growing season unless you grow in a greenhouse.

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Vegetables and Herbs That Can Be Grown In Succession

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Vegetables

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  • Arugula
  • Any leafy greens (beet, lettuce, chard, Asian greens, mustard greens)
  • Beets
  • Bush Beans
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Escarole
  • Endive
  • Pac Choi
  • Kohlrabi
  • Melons
  • Peas
  • radishes
  • Summer Squash
  • Sweet Corn
  • Turnips
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Herbs

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  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Parsley
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Make Sure To Plan Ahead

succession-plantingPlanting a garden in succession does take a little more planning.  Your first job is to figure out how much of a particular vegetable you would like to eat each week.  Don’t forget to include some giveaways to family, friends, or neighbors.

The next thing to do is to create a plan for your beds.  Make sure you leave empty space for the coming week’s plantings.  Plant 10% more seed than you need.  That will insure against seeds that don’t germinate or plants that don’t do well.  If you don’t want to get too technical about planting dates, a good rule of thumb is to plant every 2 weeks.

By looking at maturity dates, you can increase planting frequency or spread it out more.  Radishes only take 21 days to mature.  So for a family of 4, perhaps you only want to plant 2 dozen radishes per week.  Radishes also get really hot in the heat of the summer.   If you like them mild and crunchy, your last planting date for most areas will be in early June.  Because you can begin planting radishes as soon as the soil is workable in the spring, you should still have a good long season of radishes. As you can see, a garden plan with calendared planting dates is helpful.

As you harvest, you can reseed the bed again.  Planting the same vegetable in the same bed can be risky, but as long as it is in the same season and you compost between plantings, you should be fine.

Most leafy greens can be planted in 7 day intervals.  Perhaps you want to harvest 3-4 heads of lettuce per week.   If you plant 6 – 7 per week  you should be able to meet your needs.

Corn, beans, and peas can be planted in 10 – 14 day intervals.  Keep track of days to maturity so you don’t plant too close to the first day of frost.

succession-planting

So far we have been talking mainly about planting the same seed at different time periods.  Another way to harvest continually is to plant varieties of the same vegetable.  For example, there are varieties of broccoli that do very well in cold temperatures, but not in heat.  There are others that do well in the heat, but aren’t as cold tolerant.  By paying attention to such varieties and planting according to the season, you can enjoy a more continuous harvest.  This information is especially helpful to those growing in hoophouses year round.  Planting cold tolerant varieties will allow you to harvest much longer under cover of the hoops.