Lettuce and carrots are two salad and snacking staples that
we like to eat fresh all year round. If we made just one or two plantings of
these crops, we’d have a brief glut and then nothing at all. Instead, we use succession planting and intercropping to take advantage of
small spaces that become available in the garden as other crops are harvested.
If all goes well, we can eat lettuce and carrots fresh from the garden every
week of the year.
We start by deciding how much lettuce we want to harvest
each week (check out the lettuce
Information Sheet from the Virginia Association for Biological Farming for
help). We harvest some by mowing (cut and come again salad mix) and some as whole
heads. Beginning in early spring, we make weekly small nursery plantings either
indoors in flats, in our cold frames, or directly in the garden in special
seedling beds. Every week, we transplant seedlings from these nursery plantings
into the garden.
In the early fall we make one or two large sowings to be
transplanted outside to the garden under row cover. These plants will grow
slowly all through the cooler months, so we can harvest them as needed
throughout the fall, winter and early spring, when the cycle begins again.
For those interested in learning more about maximizing
production from a small garden, John Jeavons has a lot of good info available
on Bio Intensive Mini-farming.
Here in Central Virginia, Cindy Conner of Homeplace Earth has two great
DVDs to help plan your garden and incorporate cover crops for green manure.
Planning succession plantings for carrots is similar to
lettuce, except that carrots shouldn’t be transplanted. Sow carrots directly in
the ground where they’ll come to full size. Because carrot seeds are small and
take 10-12 days or more to germinate, many gardeners will interplant radish
seeds every 2-3 inches. The radishes help keep the soil from crusting over and mark
the rows, which helps with weeding while the carrots are coming up. Add lots of
compost before planting and keeping the area well watered. For more info on growing
carrots, one of my favorite blogs, Margret Roach’s A Way to Garden, has a great
article on How to
Grow Carrots and Dr. John Navazio, chief scientist for the Organic Seed
Succession planting is not just for carrots and lettuce.
Here at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, it is one of the secrets to having the
widest variety of vegetables possible, in the space we have available, all year
Thanks for stopping by and
we hope you’ll come back often to see what we’ve got growing and cooking.
Ira Wallace was lives and gardens at Acorn Community Farm
home of Southern Exposure Seed
Exchangewhere she coordinates variety selection and seed growers. Southern Exposure
offers 700+ varieties of non-GMO, open pollinated and organic seeds. Ira is
also a co-organizer of the Heritage
Harvest Festival at Monticello . She serves on the board of the
Organic Seed Alliance and is a frequent presenter at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS
FAIRS and many other events throughout