Last Updated on December 4, 2023
Some people enjoy growing plants in the spring or summer. Other folks want to plant, tend, and harvest their crops as much as possible throughout the year. If you belong to this second category of individuals, succession gardening may be ideal for you.
Succession gardening allows you to get the most out of your garden in a timely manner. Many people utilize this type of planting to produce a food reserve when they don’t have enough storage space for their harvested crops.
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What is the definition of succession gardening?
Succession gardening is a method of planting several different crops that mature throughout the season. If produce requires a certain number of days to ripen, you can plant a different crop once one has been harvested.
This method of gardening and harvesting has been done for hundreds of years. Pioneers had to plan for feeding their families without the benefits we enjoy today, so the succession gardening method served them well.
What are the benefits of succession gardening?
The following are some benefits associated with succession gardening:
- You can maximize your harvest using a small amount of space.
- You can harvest multiple crops in a short period of time while using the same garden bed or container.
- It’s cost efficient. You don’t have to buy seedlings every season and plants from the grocery store. If you plant seeds, your plants will produce vegetables (and save you cash).
Here is how succession gardening works
On a routine basis, you plant seeds or transplants one right after the other. Corn may be the first crop, followed by squash several weeks later, and broccoli at a later date.
You can replant the area where the first crop was grown with another of the same crop or something new, such as a completely new vegetable, once it’s been harvested. It is mostly determined by your own preferences.
You’ll be eating fresh produce all season long with succession gardening. New plantings will take the place of the completed crops, ensuring a continuous harvest until it’s time to mulch the beds for winter.
By using this system you can be more productive as well as get the most out of your growing season. Some succession gardeners plant every other week or so regularly.
Now that we’ve learned about what succession gardening is, let’s talk about how to create a succession garden plan.
Setting up a succession planting schedule
When it comes to succession planting, knowing what will be planted where at any particular time of year is crucial. You’ll also need to know how much space each crop will require and the seeding and harvesting dates for each.
Here’s everything you need to know:
- How long each plant takes to grow before harvesting.
- What the soil temperature needs to be for that plant.
- If you’re sowing seeds directly into the ground, and what kind of spacing each crop needs.
- When each plant flowers and produces fruit or seed.
Succession planting is most effective when your plantings are kept organized in a calendar or loose-leaf binder. The key thing to remember is that plant successions will lead to increased harvests because you’ll be harvesting many times throughout the same growing season.
Example of how to set up succession plan for your garden:
Step 1. Draw the layout of your chosen growing space. If you are using containers, divide them into quadrants so that you can plant in different areas at different times.
Step 2. Write down the vegetables that you want to plant in each quadrant. If you are using containers, write down the number of plants or seeds that can fit into your container size.
Step 3. Draw a timeline of when you want to plant each crop or vegetable.
Note: If you want to plant seeds, you can skip this step.
Step 4. Once harvesting has begun, remove the dead or dying plants so that they don’t take nutrients from the soil.
If you have any plants that no longer produce, plant something else in their place since the vegetables will still need proper care and fertilization. You can also use these harvested plants to make a seedling nursery for next year’s planting plan.
Step 5. Here are some possible plant combinations you can try, and you’ll find another succession gardening chart here:
1st Planting Radishes or peas Lettuce or spinach
2nd Planting Lettuce, beets, carrots, swiss chard, kale, or other greens
3rd Planting Beets, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, collards/kale/greens, or turnips
4th Planting Beets or turnips Kohlrabi
5th Planting Kohlrabi Broccoli or other greens
6th Planting Kohlrabi Brussel sprouts or cauliflower
7th Planting Other greens Parsnips, carrots, onions, turnips, radishes, beets Beans
Note: The maturity date of vegetables will vary depending on the seed source.
Step 6. If you want to plant more than one type of vegetable in each planting period, you can use the same seed source to ensure that they have similar maturity dates. For example, you can buy all of your seeds from one company if you know that each type of seed is packaged for a specific planting date. This way, the plants will mature at roughly the same time.
Step 7. Find out when different vegetables are planted in your local area. This will help you determine when to plant your vegetables in relation to the climate and weather conditions in your region.
Visuals are helpful for many folks. Here is an easy-to-understand overview of succession planting and gardening from our friends at MorningChores.com
Look for the best time to plant
The ‘best time to transplant or sow isn’t always in sync with when you want to harvest.
You can get a jump on succession planting by thinking not only how long before the last harvest we could start planting but also what’s happening next in terms of when we might need an earlier crop ready.
The main things to think through when considering an early start – and knowing your zone helps – are:
- When do we typically get our very first frost?
- What’s the average duration of our growing season, from the last spring frost until the first fall frost?
- If you’re into winter gardening there’s also a spring start date to think about.
Succession planting allows you to make the most of your growing area while still meeting your gardening goals in the time frame you desire. Many individuals use succession gardening to preserve a food supply while they don’t have a lot of storage space for crops they harvest. Succession plantings may appear complex at first, but with practice, you’ll be able to plan well, plant wisely, and have an abundance of food from your garden!