Succession Planting: Keep It Coming

A smart succession plan means fresh food from spring until snowfall.

Get Acquainted

Succession planting—following one crop with another—is the most important tool for maximizing a garden's yield. Creating a detailed succession plan now eliminates the guesswork of what and when to plant later on in the season. Get started by making a list of all the vegetables you want to grow and developing an understanding of their individual growth habits and preferences.

Catalog descriptions and seed packet instructions offer each vegetable's vital statistics, including when to first plant in spring, how many days the variety takes to reach maturity, how much space it requires, and if it is frost-tolerant.

Consider, too, how long each vegetable produces. Some crops, such as radishes and cress, have a harvest period of just a few weeks. Carrots, beets, and other vegetables with an intermediate maturation time may be sown in spring and again in late summer for fall and winter harvests. Others, including tomatoes and peppers, are long-season crops that bear continuously, while Brussels sprouts, corn, and winter squash remain in the ground for several months but only bear at the end of their season.

Create a Planting Schedule

Assembling all of this crop information into a planting plan is a bit like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle of the garden. Simplify things by drawing a spring, summer, and fall diagram of each bed. Begin plugging vegetables into the diagram, with early, quick crops followed by long-season ones. Be sure to note the approximate date each crop needs to be sown or transplanted and when the expected harvest date is.

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