Succession planting involves planting a new plant in place of the older one after harvesting the previous crop. This is a great way to utilize unused space in your home garden or vegetable plot. Typically, you plant annuals, perennials and flowering shrubs in order to maximize the amount of usable area for your home gardening. You may also have some unused back garden space that you would like to convert into a vegetable garden. If so, succession planting can help you achieve your goal.
There are several types of succession planting. The first is known as “one crop” succession planting. For example, let’s say that you want to plant spinach in the spot where you planted your tomato plants. In most cases, you will plant the spinach next year in that same spot. However, if you use a “multi-crop” system, such as using a raised bed with a tiller under it, the spinach will grow up to three years after the last growing season for the tomatoes.
A very effective method of succession planting is to plant all of the landscapes (non-shrub) in one growing season. These include eardrums, meadows, brush, and spruces, among other landscape vegetables and shrubs. Then, in the fall, you can do your “no frost” vegetable saplings such as spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower right off the ground, while your ground cover vegetables like Swiss chard and carrots are in the ground, just waiting to be harvested in the spring.
There are many different varieties of annuals that would make good candidates for succession planting. Some of these are bell beans, Bermuda grass, brassica family members, radishes, cabbage, turnips, kale, collard greens, fenugreek, and sweet peas. All of these have leaves that turn color to green in the fall. Plus, they all have a sweet taste that some gardeners enjoy.
It is important to realize that although there may be similarities between annuals, they do not all have the same growth habit. Annuals are bushy, while some perennials grow slowly and are more woody. Check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to determine which perennials will best suit your home garden. It is also a good idea to plant your annual crops in rows, to maximize their longevity. However, following the planting instructions provided by the manufacturer can also help you get started in succession planting.
Follow the planting directions carefully. For example, when planting a clover series, follow the directions that specify the depth of each clove. Most seeds will need to be planted either at the depth listed or about three to four inches deeper. In addition, most perennial vegetables need to be planted after the last frost date for that season. Frost hardy annual seeds can be planted up to three years before the frost date. If you are in an area where the frost dates vary, follow the tips above but check with the University of Minnesota’s Extension Service website.
Once the seed is planted, it should be carefully monitored to maintain its shape and size. One of the most popular methods of succession planting is the staggered planting. With staggered planting, a row of plants is planted one after another in order to maximize the amount of time the plants spend growing. This also ensures that small crops such as greens and dark vegetables are not missed.
Another way to get started in succession planting is to do so just before the first crop is due to appear. Just as it is important to plan for a healthy beginning, it is also crucial to plan for a harvest. If your crops do not reach the height you had hoped for, don’t worry. Simply pick up the next largest plant and continue with the process. Staying on track with the growing seasons will ensure a productive and rewarding garden.