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Succession Planting

Harvesting your garden vegetables can seem like feast or famine. Your lettuce, corn or beans come all at once, in quantities that you can not possibly use or give away. At other times, there is nothing ready to eat. Succession planting is a tried and true gardening technique, to help you spread the harvest over a much longer period of time.

Succession planting provides a continuous stream of vegetables, over an extended portion of the growing season. By practicing succession planting, your garden can produce lettuce and many other vegetables continuously, over the entire gardening season.


How Succession Planting Works:

Succession planting is incredibly easy. It just takes a little planning. Lettuce is a great example on how to utilize succession planting. Instead of planting a large crop all at once, spread the planting out over several weeks. Divide the garden space you want to use into 3 or 4 sections. Sow lettuce seeds into these smaller areas about two weeks apart. Grow enough for a week or two's harvest at most. After the final planting, you can use the space from the first section again, as it will either be harvested, or lost some of its vigor.

Tip: As summer approaches, use lettuce varieties that are more heat tolerant. Then, change back to cooler weather lettuce in the fall.

Make observations and keep notes on how well your succession plan worked. Make alterations in future seasons, as necessary. The exact timing between harvests varies. Several factors affect the timing of each plants' maturation. They include the grower, soil quality, plant variety, and weather.

Vegetable with a short growing cycle are potential candidate for succession planting. You can even practice this method of expanding the harvest period on longer growing vegetables like corn. For vegetables like corn, there is two basic methods of doing so.

With the first method, you divide the garden space that you allot for corn into three or four portions. Then plant each section one to two weeks apart.

A second method is to choose four different varieties with four different maturity dates. Again, divide your garden space into three or four sections. But, this time, plant all varieties at once. A variation of this is to plant the early corn first, the next type one week or so later, and so on. If you are planting a lot of corn, this gives a small break in between harvests. While we all love corn on the cob, some people get tired of it, if eaten too frequently.


Vegetables that work well with succession planting:

Excellent

  • Carrots- Harvest small carrots as "baby carrots", then a continuous harvest. Grow two or three plantings two weeks apart.

  • Lettuce  and other greens - most types, especially non-heading ones do very well.

  • Radish, beets - Their short growing cycle makes them ideal candidates. But, how many can you eat at once!?!

  • Spinach- Switch to heat tolerant varieties in the summer.

Good

  • Beans- plant every two weeks. Try different varieties!

  • Corn

  • Onions- Green onions work best

  • Peas- Peas have a short enough growing cycle, to grow a spring and a fall crop. They do not grow well in mid-summer heat.

  • Zucchini- Two or three at most plantings per year.

Okay

  • Cucumber- You can usually get two crops.


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