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Getting the Most Out of Your Garden with Succession Planting

Updated on June 4, 2009

I want to get the most out of my garden each year. I have a limited amount of space and have to plan carefully in order to harvest the most. Succession planting allows me to maximize my garden and harvest for two and sometimes three seasons. This can be a bit tricky for me, because I am so far north, so I have to really be on top of it. For those people with a longer growing season it is much easier and they can definitely harvest for three seasons.

With succession planting in early spring you will plant vegetables that can withstand the colder temperatures and that don't have a long growing season. Peas, broccoli, radishes, and lettuce work well for this. Once you have harvested these vegetables or it gets too hot for them to produce anything else, pull them out and plant heat loving plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, melons, etc. These plants will grow all summer and into the fall. In early fall when they are done producing you can plant cold weather crops such as kale, peas again (start in early August if you can as they take some time, more lettuce and radishes, broccoli again, etc.

With succession planting you can have fresh produce on your table for eight to nine months of the year. Some people can even produce food all year long, but that does require lots of covering. You can have several harvests of the same vegetable with succession planting too. For example we love growing our own salad fixings. But lettuce and radishes like the cooler weather. By planting these crops both in the spring and in the fall we get a double harvest.

Here is exactly how I succession plant in my garden so that you can see more clearly how it is done. In early spring I planted peas. These are just now starting to produce pods and will do so through June. I will then pull out the plants, add some compost and let the plot rest for a couple of months. Then in late August I will plant lettuce and radishes in the same spot. I am using that bed for two different vegetables in one year.

If we had a longer growing season and if my garden got more sun I could plant green beans of something for the summer and then pull them and plant the cool weather stuff in September. Oh, how I wish I still lived in the south where I could really use succession planting to my advantage! Hopefully you can take full advantage of your garden and grow more than you ever expected with succession planting.


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