Grow More Vegetables in Less Space with Succession Planting








lettuce garden

 

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© 2014 Shanna Lea

Did you know that you can grow more vegetables throughout the season, even if all you have is a small corner in your yard? You can get the most use out of small spaces by using the succession planting method.

Succession planting is the best gardening method to use to accomplish this.  Succession gardening means growing the same plants or complementary ones, in the same space continuously throughout the season.  This maximizes the yield from your garden production.  Planting your crops in succession uses space and time efficiently for better results.

Many who are new to gardening mistakenly believe planting and sowing the seeds only happens at the beginning of the gardening season.  Each spring, they carefully put the tender plants into the ground, or make straight rows and plant the seeds in, and then wait for the magic to happen.

Experienced gardeners know that with succession planting, there is a better chance of success and continual harvest throughout the growing season.  Late freezes, spring storms, hail, dry spells, and too much rain are the peaks and valleys of gardening.  If you want an abundant supply of fresh veggies all season long, you need to plan ahead for it with succession planting.

Planning for Successful Succession Planting

To plan for succession-planting success, you need to consider these variables:

  • How long each crop takes to mature
  • How long it produces once mature
  • And which crops can be planted harmoniously in the same space at different times throughout the season

Don’t let these variables intimidate or discourage you.  Just like anything else, it takes a little practice, but you will get the hang of it.

If you are a beginner, start with a one or two raised beds or try container gardening.  A great way to learn and connect with your garden is to take detailed notes in your garden journal through the whole growing season.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What do you want to try next year?

Getting Started with Succession Planting

Before you dig, you need to know what you want to plant.  Make a list of what plants you want to grow in your succession planting area of the garden.  Make a note of the correct variety of each plant—there are a lot of different varieties within the same plant species.

Next to each plant variety on your list, make the following notes.  You can usually find the information on the back of seed packets or reading through seed catalogues.

  • How long it takes to reach maturity
  • If it is heat or cold tolerant
  • How many hours of sunlight needs each day
  • What type of soil it needs
  • What are the spacing requirements

Now that you know what you’d like to grow in your garden, decide if you want to grow the same crop through the whole season, or if you want to inter-plant more than one variety.

Lettuce and herbs like cilantro and basil grow together and are good for repeated sowing all season.  Remember, if you want to grow more than one crop, find recommended companion plants.

There are tons of great resources to learn about companion planting.  The best ones provide you with a lot of information to help you plan what is best for your area.  There are a lot of online resources, but I always found it best to have a good hard copy on hand for reference.  Many of my gardening books went out to the garden with me so I could look up any questions I had on the spot.

Succession planting may seem complicated at first, but you will be amazed at how quickly you can make it work and how much you will learn in the process.  By applying the principles of succession planting to your garden, you’ll soon be harvesting and enjoying more fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs than you ever thought possible.

Want more information?  Read this article,  “Double Your Harvest with Second Plantings” over at Gardener’s Supply or check out the resources below.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” — Cicero

Resources:

Books:

The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman

Seattle Seed Co. Year-Round Planting Guide

The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook:  Make the Most of Your Growing Season by Jennifer Kujawski

Gardening Journal from Moleskine

How to Keep a Garden Journal

Garden Journal and Planner:  Your Garden Records, Thoughts, Plans, and Pictures –Complete in One Package

Carrots Love Tomatoes—Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening

Links:

Gardener’s Supply Company

Raised Beds.com

 

 



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