Succession Planting Gardening Technique

Romaine Lettuce

Try Succession Planting to Spread out the Harvest

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

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.

Did You Know? In addition to vegetables, you can apply succession planting to some herbs. For example, Basil is a good candidate.  

How Succession Planting Works

Succession planting is incredibly easy. However, it takes some planning. Lettuce is a great example of how to utilize succession planting. Instead of planting a large crop all at once, spread the planting out over several weeks. Divide your garden space into 3 or 4 sections. Sow lettuce seeds into these smaller areas about two weeks apart. Plant just enough for a week or two’s harvest. After the final planting, you often can use the space from the first section again for another crop.

Garden 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. Next year makes changes, 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.

Vegetables with a short growth cycle are potential candidates for succession planting. You can even practice this method of expanding the harvest period on longer growing vegetables like corn. 

With the first method, 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.

Try Succession Planting on These Vegetables

Excellent Choices

  • 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 Candidates

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

  • Corn

  • Onions – Green onions work best

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

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

Okay Choices

  • Cucumber – You can usually get two crops.

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