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It is a mistake we all make a first. You know you want lettuce for salads this summer. So, you plant the entire seed packet. A few weeks later, you have so much lettuce you can’t eat it all. Some of it goes bad. Was there a way to solve this problem? It is called succession planting.
What is Succession Planting?
Often called succession sowing, this practice involves planting a crop several times throughout the season rather than just once. Doing so spreads out your harvest time. Instead of harvesting 500 carrots at one time, you can harvest 50 to 100 carrots multiple times throughout the season.
Succession planting makes preserving much easier. It also is essential for those who sell crops at farmer’s markets.
I’ve made the mistake before of sowing a whole bed of carrots. Then, I spent hours trying to preserve them. If I had known about succession planting at that time, it would’ve been much easier to ensure everything was preserved successfully.
Tips for Maximizing Harvest with Succession Planting
1. Pick the Right Crops
Some crops aren’t meant for succession plantings, such as tomatoes or peppers. Instead, there are some crops that are ideal. Let’s take a look.
- Crops that grow fast, within 1 to 3 months, are perfect for succession planting. Examples are radishes, leaf lettuce, baby turnips, baby kale greens, and spinach.
- If you need to harvest your crops quickly, those plants may work for succession planting as well. Examples are bush peas, bush beans, and baby greens.
- I sow carrots multiple times throughout the season, but it isn’t necessary. They keep growing larger if I leave them in the ground. However, beans will go bad if I forget to harvest.
- Pick varieties that harvest faster. For example, my radishes harvest typically in 18 to 25 days. Some radishes take 30 days. While that doesn’t seem very long, you can get an extra harvest this year by selecting earlier varieties.
2. Group Similar Crops Together
To make it easier for yourself, you should dedicate each bed to a certain family type of crop. It makes it easier to rotate your beds each season when there was only one type of family in that bed. Each plant type has different watering and fertilizing needs.
If you can, pick some beds to use for succession planting and mark others for crops that take all summer to grow, like potatoes or peppers. You can sow these beds and harvest crops at one time.
Then, add compost and amend the soil. Next, you’ll sow more seeds. This process continues throughout the season growing.
3. Plant transplants
While some crops don’t transplant well, such as carrots or radishes, you can start lettuce or spinach ahead of time in containers.
As your lettuce grows in the garden beds outside, start some inside for the next sowing.
Some plants struggle to germinate and grow correctly if the temperatures are too hot. Starting inside in controlled temperatures and slowly introducing them to the weather outside (called hardening off) gives you the best chance at a large harvest.
Give Succession Planting a Try
The first year that you garden, you may not be ready to practice succession planting. It does require more planning and thought process.
However, those of us who spend each year gardening and preserving our harvest greatly benefit from succession planting. You can easily double or triple your harvest. It is worth the effort.
So, tell me. Do you use succession planting? If so, do you have a successful harvest? Let me know in the comments.