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Succession Planting Guide

July 5, 2011

Extend the garden growth season with succession planting

Sugar Ann Snap Peas
Sugar Ann Snap Peas ready for picking!

If you are really trying to avoid buying vegetables at the grocery store by growing your own, start reading up on “succession planting” to maximize the garden season.  In layman’s terms – keep planting vegetables throughout the summer.  Typically, I have planted my garden on Memorial Day weekend and then called it a day.  One of my goal’s this summer was to use up my old seeds and what better way than to keep planting throughout the summer!  This past weekend, I started looking around in the garden to see where I could use up some seeds.  I planted plenty of new seeds – lettuce, beans, beets, radish and carrots.  And I discovered something new – I can wave the magic wand over crop mistakes and seedlings that failed me!  How wonderful that no one has to know that I didn’t seed the radishes deep enough and left me a bunch of duds, I can pull them up and start over!  That hill of winter squash seed that didn’t germinate and grow?  Re-till it and plant some beet seeds.

So what do you need to know to get started with succession planting? Typically you can do this successfully with plants that grow fast and/or have short harvest times.  And pay attention to whether the vegetable prefers warm or cold weather so that you can see how late in the season you can plant those seeds.

Not really looking for more homework, here’s your personal cheat sheet.  I would recommend seeds at this point because they might be more available than vegetable seedlings.

  • Every week plant radishes
  • Every week in spring and late summer: spinach
  • Every two weeks plant beans, beets and carrots
  • Every week or two plant lettuce and other salad greens
  • Make a second and then a third planting of cucumbers and summer squash each about a month apart.  When the quality of fruit from the old plants starts to deteriorate, you will swoop in with new seedlings.

Finish out the season with another round of planting of cool-season vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, garlic, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, onion, peas, radish, shallot, spinach and turnip.  Hint: save this list and you can start early in spring 2012 with these type of veggies too!

Organic Green Tip: Buy Certified Organic Seed packs!  There are many reasons as to why this is important.  It’s better for the environment as seed crops are heavy users of synthetic agricultural chemicals.  Increased demand will lead to an increase in variety selection and development, and increased availability of more organic seed.  Plus, you are supporting farms and companies that are committed to organic agriculture with your purchase.

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