Written by - Kaitlynn from MIgardener
In this interesting and slightly strange place where we find ourselves in history, let's not forget the quiet refuge that is present in the garden.
Right now is the perfect time to start seedlings outside for Northern gardeners, and start a new garden project if you are living in a warmer southern climate. There are a handful of sustainable gardening practices you should study right now to remain informed and to help your peace of mind. Today we will be learning all about the benefits of succession planting.
What is succession planting?
This gardening practice was essential in a time before modern technology. Planting in stages, or succession guarantees a prolonged harvest throughout the season or through a particular season. Using this method of planting in a continuous way extends the growing season and doubles overall yields at harvest time. This method also acts as gardening insurance, if you will, by growing multiple rounds of harvest in case your first crops are negatively affected by unexpected changes in weather. Also, instead of having a rush of produce ripen all at once (leading to waste), succession planting offers time to eat and preserve the harvest before it goes bad. For more on preserving the harvest, check out this video. Succession planting is the cure the best technique for those who want to become less dependant on grocery store shopping in between harvests.
Same Variety, Staggered Plantings
For fast-maturing varieties, plant your rows from 7-14 days apart. Some varieties (like lettuce and spinach) will give multiple harvests, so planting them 5-7 days apart (called the "stair-step" method) will provide a continuous yield. By the time your final row of lettuce has been harvested in your cut-and-come-again garden, the first row will be ready to cut again in no-time! For one-harvest varieties like radishes, this method will free up space for newly planted rows. Depending on the season, you could either plant the same variety or start something completely different.
Different Veggies in Succession
As stated above, plant crops with shorter harvest windows that take longer to reach full maturity weeks apart from each other. With cold-hardy varieties, each harvest will be sweeter and richer in flavor than the last. Once cold-hardy crops are hit by the first frost of the fall gardening season, their flavor profile increases. Aim to plant 25% of a crop every week over four weeks to achieve the best results. This will give the crop long enough to fully mature by the end of the growing season, but will also keep the harvest in succession to avoid being overwhelmed with produce. For more on succession planting, click here.
Best Varieties for Succession Planting
When deciding when and where to start succession planting, consider what grows best in your area and what varieties your family enjoys the most! If you're going to get double or triple the amount of harvest from your garden, you'll want it to be a variety you love eating. Check out this handy succession planting chart to make a more structured plan for this year's garden.
Here are (roughly) a few of the recommended time frames for a handful of popular varieties:
7 days apart:
Leaf lettuce, radishes, spinach
10 days apart:
Heading lettuce, bak choi, kohlrabi, peas, sweet corn, bush beans
14 days apart:
beets, endive, arugula, turnips
I hope this little introduction sparked some curiosity for you. As we celebrate the first day of spring, what new gardening practices are you hoping to utilize in 2020? What are some of your favorite things to harvest a LOT of? For future blog posts; what sustainable gardening methods are you curious to learn more about? Let us know on Facebook in the comments!