Once you start learning how to vegetable garden, it is time to know about tips for increasing harvest in your vegetable garden with your succession planting. Even if you live in an area with a shorter growing season, utilizing quick growing crops helps to keep your garden busy all season long.
What Is Succession Planting?
To successfully use succession planting, you have to understand what it is. When using this practice, your goal is to keep your garden beds continually producing new veggies. You will do so through some steps and methods. Don’t worry; it isn’t as hard as you might think!
1. Frequent Planting
When you want to have a continuous harvest over a season, you need to stagger your planting. You can use this approach with plants such as greens, beets, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, and radishes.
How does this look in your garden? It is simple! This week you plant two rows of radishes. In two more weeks, you plant two more rows of radishes. Then, you plant another two rows of radishes and harvest the first rows you planted. The process will continue all through the gardening season.
Staggering your planting allows always to have vegetables to harvest because you are continually sowing the crop every one to three weeks.
2. Harvest And Replant
You can grow different vegetables in the same area throughout the growing season. Most plants leave behind nutrients in the soil. You can tap into those nutrients. For example, bush beans and garden peas leave behind excess nitrogen in the soil. For your fall garden, you can plant a row of spinach that loves nitrogen!
Some people refer to this as fill in the gap. You might plant an entire bed of lettuce, harvest then you have space for another vegetable like tomatoes. It is best if you have seedlings ready to go in that spot to maximize your entire growing season. Depending on the length of your growing season, you may be able to fill one bed three times!
Succession sowing involves you planting a crop several times throughout the season instead of all at once. I made this mistake before. I dedicated an entire bed to lettuce. I planted the whole bed. Within weeks, I had a lovely crop. Then, it was gone after dozens of salads. If I had planned correctly, we would’ve had lettuce all summer instead of just a few weeks.
4 Tips For Increasing Your Harvest With Succession Planting
1. Put Similar Crops Together
One practice that makes succession planting easier is putting similar crops together. It makes it much easier to rotate your beds throughout the season.
PRO TIP: Rotating your garden beds doesn’t seem like an important step for gardening, but it is. Rotating crops ensures that your soil stays healthy. Crop rotation keeps the balance of nutrients and microorganisms in the soil.
You can have a variety of garden beds. Some will hold your plants that last throughout the growing season, such as tomatoes and peppers. Another bed might be for your lettuce. There will be a continually harvest there all season by using the staggered planting technique.
You will also have a bed dedicated to quick growing plants, such as radishes. You could grow an entire bed of radishes, harvest, amend the soil, and replant.
2. Pick Early Varieties
When you are picking out your garden vegetable seeds, take a look at the average growing season. Each seed packet will tell you the length of time it takes for the plant to be ready to harvest. For example, my radishes take an average of 18 days to reach harvest time. On the other hand, my brussel sprouts take an average of 100 days!
If you want to use succession planting successfully, planting varieties that mature quickly is key. The sooner they grow, the sooner you can harvest and plant another round. If you want to use succession planting for peas and beans, opt for bush varieties. They dedicate less time to growing vines, but pole varieties are easier for those with smaller space available.
Here are some tips and plants to consider for your garden.
- You can find varieties that are ready in one to three months for:
- Leaf lettuce
- Mustard greens
- Bok Choi
- Baby turnips
- Kale greens
- You also want to try plants that require you to harvest quickly such as bush peas, baby greens, and bush beans. You can sow multiple times as well.
- Fruiting crops are NOT ideal for succession planting, except for cucumbers and zucchini because you can harvest them typically 60 days after sowing. What doesn’t work? Don’t try things such as tomatoes, winter squash or peppers. If you want to have a larger harvest season of tomatoes, try planting early season, mid-season and late season tomatoes.
- Check the maturity date on the seed pack. If it says that it requires 100 days to mature, don’t plan to use succession planting. Examples are corn, pumpkins, parsnips, rutabagas, and brussel sprouts.
3. Plant Transplants Rather Than Seeds
Did you think you were done growing seedlings for the year? You would be wrong! One of the best ways to have a better harvest with succession planting is to plant seedlings rather than seeds.
This practice doesn’t work for all crops. For example, lettuce and carrots SHOULD be directly sown into the ground. Spinach, on the other hand, is a plant I always grow as a seedling first, especially if I am planting them in July or August for a fall garden. Spinach doesn’t germinate well in hot weather.
4. Start a Fall Garden
The growing season doesn’t stop because summer is coming to an end! Dozens of vegetables grow into the fall. Some can even tolerate a frost. Starting a fall garden does one thing – extend your growing season which will increase your yearly harvest.
What Would This Look Like In Your Garden?
To help you understand the process, let’s take a look at my chart for 2017. I have specific plants I use succession planting. I use my calendar to help remember when I need to plant the next round!
- Sow Carrots: April 26th, May 10th, June 1st, June 22nd, July 8th, July 22nd (the last two plantings I will use an earlier variety that is ready within 55 days).
- Bush Beans: May 14th, June 4th, and June 26th
- Spinach: April 23rd, May 7th, May 28th, and June 11th. Then, I get ready for a fall harvest and plant spinach July 24th, August 7th, and August 21st.
- Leaf Lettuce: April 26th, May 10th, May 31st, June 14th. Then, I take a short break and start for the fall harvest by planting July 20th, August 3rd, and August 17th.
These are just a few of the crops I use for succession planting. It may seem like extra work, but it simply requires extra planning. By keeping track of when I plant and when I plan to plant, I can easily have a harvest that lasts for an entire growing season. The ultimate goal for a gardener is to produce as much of their food as possible, and succession planting can make that happen!
Have you tried succession planting? Let me know in the comments!