If you plan on growing fruits and vegetables to bring from garden to table, you may be wondering how you can maximize your harvest - especially if you have limited space for planting. Succession planting (also called successive planting) is a simple strategy to keep your garden producing crops all season long. All it takes is a little planning ahead.
Succession planting uses a combination of staggered planting times, crop rotation, and recycling of growing space to extend crop production. Begin by making a plan for planting - decide which crops you want to grow, how much space you’ll need for each variety, and when you’ll need to start your seeds based on your plant hardiness zone. For more tips on when to plant, visit our Vegetable Seed Guide.
Backyard gardeners who want a continuous bounty of quick-growing crops such as lettuce, radish, and micro-greens, should start seeds or plant out seedlings in intervals of 7, 10, 14, or 21 days. This means that successive crops will reach their maturity at different times, allowing for a continuous harvest, rather than one large harvest during the season. Sowing seeds in trays or in a seedbed means that as soon as you harvest one succession of plants, the next seedlings are ready to be planted out, reducing the amount of time between harvests.
You can also use this method with different cultivars of the same plant. For example, you may choose to plant 3 different types of potatoes - early, mid, and late-season varieties. While you won’t have a continuous harvest of the same variety, you will be able to enjoy different varieties of potatoes all season long.
Another method for successive planting uses the same space for two different season crops. After preparing the soil in the garden plot or raised bed, plant a cool-season crop such as peas, cabbage, or beets. Once you’ve harvested the produce from this planting, you can now use the space to start your warm-season crops, such as summer squash, tomatoes, or eggplant. Keep in mind that some crops deplete valuable nutrients from the soil, so you may need to add quality compost to your soil in between plantings. This type of succession planting ensures that every inch of your garden beds will be productive throughout the year.
You can also use the same growing space for two plants with different maturity dates, such as peppers and radish. Radish, which takes only a few weeks to mature, will be able to be harvested before the pepper plants grow tall and shade out the radish tops.
Perhaps the easiest way to get a successive crop is to plant varieties called “cut and come again.” These harvestables, including salad greens, chives, asparagus, basil, and celery and others, can be cut back near the ground line and allowed to regrow for another harvest.
Explore our seed selection to find the right plants for your garden or stop by you local Southern States to see what’s in season and select the tools you need to get your garden growing.