Jul 28

7 Tips on Succession Planting

Succession planting refers mainly to planting one crop after another, whether it's the same crop or a different one.
This can be done at any time of the year that your garden is plantable.
It's easy enough to do, just keep a few things in mind:

1. What a veggie wants.
Does it prefer the cold or the warmer temperatures? The cooler weather loving crops, such as cabbage and all of its relatives, plus carrots, peas, and lettuce, can be planted early in the spring. Plan so that they are harvested in time to follow with a warmer climate loving veggie.
How do I do that?

preventing weeds in the garden

killing weeds between the plantings of peas

2. They grow up so fast.
Check the seed packet to find the 'days to maturity'. If the packet suggests planting the seed directly in the ground, the days to maturity is about the time you might expect to begin harvesting.
If it suggests starting indoors, the days to maturity is calculated from transplanting the veggie.

days to maturity

same veggie, different days to maturity

3. They're not all the same.
This photo is of 3 different types of carrot seeds. The days to maturity range from 56 to 90 days. That's a big difference.
So why does this matter?
Carrots, for example, can take a lot of cold weather. I can plant an 'early' or 'short season' variety in the spring and have that bed available for another crop. Likewise, I can plant a variety in the fall, and have fresh carrots (with some straw mulching) even in January.

succession planting

cabbage to carrots

4. Know who you are dealing with.
This one takes a little practice, because it's specific to your garden.
Over the years I have learned that garlic will mature sometime in July, August at the latest.
I also know onions will be done in August, lettuce and broccoli bolts when it gets hot, and beans and melon don't like to be planted until the ground is warm.
After some experience in the garden you learn how the veggies in your bed roll.
Take notes, and use this information to get more from your space.

succession planting

onions to broccoli raab

fall garden seeds

5. Over-winter.
Depending on your climate, you can plant some veggies to harvest after the winter is over.
Garlic is the most common example here in the Northeast, Zone 5/6 and in many similar areas; it goes in the ground in October for the following summer's enjoyment.
In some places, you can overwinter onions- we had that happen here, by accident, with our mild weather last winter. Too bad we didn't know ahead of time!
We plant parsnips and salsify late in the summer to harvest the following spring.
Some gardeners plant a late crop of kale, and harvest it fresh throughout the winter.

succession planting

broccoli to beets

6. Keep it clean.
Rotating crops with veggies that are not related helps prevent bug and disease infestation.
This is not usually a problem with succession planting, as you are more likely to not follow similar veggies.
If you are replanting an area that was affected by bugs or disease, though, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Plant a crop that won't be as bothered.

7. Feed me, Seymour!
Always remember to replenish the soil between planting. Different veggies take different nutrients from the soil. Adding some nice homemade compost or the proper nutrient mix for your next crop can make a world of difference.

Succession planting can help extend your harvest without the need for cloches or cold frames, although they would extend it even more. In a cold climate that is.
Here we start planting as soon as the ground can be worked, which is usually about March. We generally start harvesting around the middle of May, and continue until January.

What's your timing like?

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