How does succession planting help you with vegetable gardening? You?ve planned your vegetable garden down to the very last nook and cranny. You?ve figured out where to place everything and there is no soil unfilled. Are you left wishing your garden was just a bit bigger? What if I told you that you might be able to produce even more using the same garden space. How? Succession planting!
Succession planting is basically growing one crop after another. If you live in a warmer climate, you will have no problem achieving this, but even those of us way up here in Maine can do it on a smaller scale. This year I am following up my crop of broccoli with a crop of spinach.
Maximize Space with Succession Planting
You?ll want to know your first and last frost dates and you?ll want to read your seed packets. On your seed packets you will find information about when to plant in the spring, how long it takes for the plant to reach maturity and whether or not the plant is frost tolerant. Now that you understand succession planting and your estimated frost information, you can figure out if a crop can be succession planted. You need to use a little math, but I promise it?s not too hard.
So how do I do it?
We?ll use Maryland (garden zone 7) as our example. In Maryland the last frost usually falls on April 21st and the first is usually around November 11th. These are rough numbers since Maryland has several frost dates based on location. After singing ?the days in the months? song in my head, I can confidently report that there are approximately 204 days in the growing season. With this information I know:
- Lima beans are sown directly in the soil, but only once the soil is warm, which doesn?t happen until mid-May. Lima beans germinate in 7 to 12 days and need another 70-100 days before they are ready to be harvested. They are not good candidates for succession plants. They require at least 77 days (but up to 112 days) of the growing season.
- Carrots, on the other hand, can go directly in the soil at or just a bit before last frost. They take only 6 days to germinate followed by 65-75 days until harvest. If I calculate the math of putting them out on April 9th, I get this:
6 + 75 = 81 (around July 11th)
That means I still have 123 days of frost-free weather for another crop. I could do carrots again, or maybe something entirely different. Here is where reading your seed packets comes into play again. Look through your seeds for ones that don?t need a cold period to germinate. Look for seeds that can handle a little frost in case it comes early. One fall crop I love to do is broccoli. Since the temperatures are lower at maturity, the broccoli is less apt to ?bolt?. Broccoli does best when started indoors which is great because it buys you time to harvest your carrots and clean up the garden bed a bit. Let?s put our broccoli transplants into the ground on July 16th (the 86th day of the gardening season) It will take around 55-65 days for it to reach maturity, If I do out the math, I get this:
86 + 65 = 151 (around September 9th)
That gives us plenty of time! If you wanted to have a bit more down time from crops, you just do the math backwards using subtraction.
204 (days in the growing season) – 65 (days for broccoli to reach maturity) = 139 (the last possible day of the growing season to put in transplants)
It seems a bit tricky at first, but I promise that once you get the hang of it, you?ll fall in love with the use of succession planting. Remember, growing produce isn?t a one-time thing. You can do more than put seeds in the garden in the spring and then be done. It can be something that evolves and changes all season long.
Thank you again to Janet of Timber Creek Farm. It?s been a joy guest posting! If anyone has any questions for me, feel free to comment here (I?ll be sticking around) or you can contact me directly at 104homestead [at] gmail [dot] com
Bio: My name is Jessica and I am the author and creator of The 104 Homestead. I reside on ? of an acre in a very rural area, yet I live like I have all the land in the world. I grow food for my family, make most of the things I need from scratch and live as simply and eco-friendly as I can. It?s my goal to teach others that you don?t need to have ?the ideal homestead? to live the life you want to live.
I want to thank Jess for writing this post about succession planting a garden. With this method we can all increase the amount of food we produce without digging or building a bigger garden space. Please stop by The 104 Homestead and read more inspiring posts from Jess. We welcome your comments below and hope this information was helpful to you.
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