Succession Vegetable Gardening

Reader Contribution by Karin Eller
article image

There are as many reasons as varieties of vegetables and herbs for successive plantings. A short definition of succession planting is the resourceful use of time and space in your garden. An example of efficient use of space is that your garden is 8×10. You plant the basics, tomatoes, peppers, spring onions, and maybe lettuce. Once the plants have finished producing the garden is done. That wonderful space that had lettuce and onions you harvested earlier in the season can be used to plant carrots or beets and beans. An example of time restriction is you cannot plant another type of vegetable because it will not mature before frost. A little bit of research on vegetables and problem solved. Timing can be everything in the garden. These are just basic ideas but let’s take this successive planting idea a few steps further.

People that preserve the garden harvest can plant to complement their endeavors. Plan your garden so that when you harvest lettuce, plant cilantro for salsa. The cilantro will be ready to use when the tomatoes ripen, and your beautiful aromatic coriander won’t become coriander.

Successive planting throughout the gardening season will also provide late blooming nutrition for pollinating friends. Many times I have been in my garden and observed pollinators on late peas.

How many times have you looked at a seed catalogue and wanted to plant something different, but there isn’t any space. Now, you do. There is plenty of time to plant shorter season transplants and seeds for your garden.

Many times we have planted zucchini and all the plants become lunch for the squash beetles. I don’t like to use any type of insecticides in my garden. Because I use compost, I do not want chemicals leeching into my black gold and killing all the good microbes in the soil. We solved this problem by planting zucchini from seed on July the fourth. The beetles have run their course and I have a wonderful zucchini harvest when no one else does.

Living in zone 5, we have had to fight the elements. Deer and other critters to inclement weather, such as flooding and even the occasional Memorial Day freeze. We have had to learn to adapt. Covering transplants does not always work and it is labor intensive. Learning to work with the seasons and natural methods ensures the needed time for a plentiful garden.

These are just a few of the vegetables and herbs that you might consider for your successive plantings:

Bush and Pole Beans – Purple, yellow and green. Beans can be planted at any time during the growing season, because most beans mature in approximately 65 days or less, depending upon weather conditions. They just cannot take a frost. Plant beginning of July for harvest at the end of August.

Beets And Carrots – All types of colors and sizes. Can plant at any time during growing season and can take more than an occasional frost. The Rainbow carrot blends are great for serving fresh or a nice visual for pickled carrots in jars. ‘Boldor’ yellow beets keep their color when cooked.

Broccoli – Grown from transplants. Plant beginning of August, in light shade so the plants won’t bolt. Broccoli will need to be watered on a daily basis so it will not wilt. A purple broccoli, ‘Purple Peacock’ and the heirloom ‘DiCiccio’ have performed well in our garden.

Cauliflower – Grown form transplants. Plant beginning of August in light shade. Water daily to keep the plants from wilting. ‘Snow Crown’ is a very dependable variety with a good yield.

Kohlrabi – Plant throughout the summer. We like to plant small amounts of kohlrabi because they do grow very quickly, approximately 40 days from transplant.

Peas – Any peas, Snow, Snap or Shelling do very well with successive planting. Planting peas late summer from transplants work well.

Pac Choi – We have planted this in early Spring and Fall. This oriental green prefers to be grown from seed and in cooler climates. We have even grown it is light shade. ‘Shiro’ is a variety that matures quickly and is perfect for succession seed planting.

Greens – Lettuces, spinach, Swiss chard and kale all do well in cooler weather. Depending on the variety they can be direct seeded or grown from transplants. We like to see the lettuce varieties in flats two weeks apart, then transplant to a small pot until they are at least three inches tall and then transplant. Interval planting ensures that we have a constant supply of lettuce. Planting in two week intervals also keeps the larger, established plants from over shadowing the smaller transplants. Plant lettuce in a partially shaded spot in the summer to prevent bolting. All these varieties can take a frost. There are quite a few varieties available. The colored varieties will definitely turn your garden into a work of art. Check your seed catalog for the many varieties of seasonal greens.

Basil – Basil is going to wear out as the growing season progresses. Basil can be grown in a container or the ground. Try one of the purple or unusual flavored varieties to make beautiful vinegar for your pantry or for a harvest gift. Plant basil transplants in mid June and you will have a steady supply of basil for salsas and sauces until frost. Leave a couple of plants from the first planting to go to flower. The bees will gladly visit your garden.

Plan ahead and order seeds or wait till the end of the season when the seeds go on sale. Keep your seed in a dry area till you are ready to plant them. Remember when growing from seed to include the germination time for later season successive plantings. Check with local greenhouses for availability of transplants, if you don’t have time to start them. There might be a minimum amount that has to be purchased. Just get some of your friends together to buy a flat. It will be well worth the effort.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.