Plant succession is the common difference between novice and expert gardeners. The key to vegetable gardening success is in the plant SUCCESSion method.
One of the biggest problems I see beginner gardeners having is planting everything all at once, and too much to harvest and preserve all at once. The best strategy to fix this common mistake is by learning the art of succession planting.
Learn how to plant in succession and you’ll have a manageable vegetable garden to harvest over and over again. Keep reading and I’ll show you just how easy it really is.
Succession Planting: Grow More Vegetables in Less Space
If you have a small amount of space to plant a vegetable garden, you are probably eager to get the most out of it. Succession planting is a great way to accomplish this. This practice involves growing the same or complementary crops in the same spot continuously throughout the season in order to maximize the yield a garden can produce.
In other words, succession planting combines the efficient use of space and timing to obtain better results.
Many novice gardeners mistakenly believe that planting and sowing seeds is a one-and-done process that only happens at the beginning of the growing season.
So, they head out to the garden each spring, get some plants and seeds in the ground… and wait for the magic to happen.
Unfortunately, following this one-off approach to planting is almost guaranteed to cause many peaks and valleys in what can be harvested throughout the season.
If you want your garden to produce an abundant supply of fresh produce all season long, you need to plan ahead for it.
Plan Ahead for Successful Succession Planting
To create a successful succession-planting plan for your garden, you need to take a number of variables into account. For example, you’ll want to consider how long each crop takes to reach maturity, how long it produces once mature, and which crops can be harmoniously planted in the same space at different times throughout the season.
Although the number of variables involved in succession planting may seem a little intimidating at first, don’t let that discourage you.
It may take some practice, but you can definitely get the hang of it. If you are just starting out, choose only one or two beds or containers to practice in your first year.
Also, take detailed notes in your garden journal throughout the growing season so you know what worked – and what didn’t – when next season rolls around.
Getting Started with Succession Planting
Before you start digging in the dirt, you’ll want to have a good idea of what you plan to grow.
Start by making a list of which plants you want to grow in your succession planting area.
As you are compiling this list, make sure you note the correct variety of each plant, because there is a lot of diversity among different varieties of the same plant species.
Then, next to each plant variety on your list, note how long that particular plant takes to reach maturity, is it heat or cold tolerant, how many hours of sunlight it needs each day, what type of soil it prefers, and its spacing requirements.
The back of seed packets and garden catalogues are great starting points for this exercise.
Succession Planting Chart
1 week intervals
Radishes: Read my secret to growing great radishes, that aren’t too spicy and survive the bugs!
2 week intervals
all of the vegetables that can be sown in two week intervals are all cool weather crops except for the corn and green beans. Learn more about the top 19 cool weather crops in this post.
3 week intervals
6 week intervals
Tips for Succession Planting
I’ve found that succession planting made a huge difference in my garden the past few years. With keeping the ground full of seed, plants growing and plants ready to harvest it’s hard for weeds to compete with the productivity of the vegetable garden plants.
I found this extremely helpful as all my beds are in ground and weeds have always been a battle, until I started mulching with cardboard and wood chips using the lasagne garden method. It was also helpful to use the succession planting strategy on top of this.
I hoe a row running east to west to ensure my plants get full southern exposure and plant in that row at the suggested interval.
I also use rotational planting strategies to decide what I’ll plant in each row for my spring, summer and fall rotations.
And then in deciding what I’ll plant in each row for each growing season I’ll use companion planting strategies.
For example, I know that carrots do best when planted with parsley as they are great companion plants. Carrots can be sown every two weeks so I’ll add to the row of carrots along with more parsley every two weeks while tending to the seeds that have already germinated.
Learn more about companion planting here.