As we start to get our garden plans in order for this year, succession planting is something that absolutely should be included in our calendars and our garden maps. It’s really the best way to ensure not only to do you have more to harvest throughout the season but that you take advantage of open spaces in the garden when one crop ends or the season changes.
Today on Just Grow Something we’ll talk about what succession planting is, how it relates to interplanting and relay planting, and how to successfully schedule your successions to reach your gardening goals, whether that’s to feed your family for the entire year or just be sure you’ve got enough salad ingredients to get you through the summer. Let’s dig in!
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Karin Velez [00:00:00]:
Last week, we talked all about interplanting as a way to get more out of your gardens. And this week, we're adding to that with succession planting. As we start to get our garden plans in order for this year, cession planting is something that absolutely should be included in our calendars and in our garden maps. It's really the best way to ensure not only do you have more to harvest throughout the season, but did you take advantage of open spaces in the garden when one crop ends or the seasons change. Today on just grow something, we'll talk about what succession planting is, how it relates to interplanting and relay planting and how to successfully schedule your successions to reach your gardening goals, whether that's to feed your family for the entire year or just be sure you've got enough salad ingredients to get you through the summer. Let's dig in. .
Karin Velez [00:02:06]:
If you are new here. Welcome. I am so happy you are here.I'm ramping up this season with all kinds of great content coming your way between the podcast and the newsletter and an updated website and new online courses in the works. And I just think this year, we are going to see another influx of new gardeners to the space and gardeners who maybe want to SPAN, what they're doing, because food prices are continuing to rise in the grocery stores, and our paychecks are not. So I will continue to dump as much free content out to you as I possibly can because I truly believe there is power in food, and we need to take control of that for ourselves as much as possible. I want to shout out one of my supporters over on Patreon, Jerry, who recently upgraded his port level to the flower patron level. And, Gerri, I truly, truly appreciate your support for the content I am creating. That means Jerry now gets access to even more benefits on Patreon, including a live monthly q and a session with me, which is happening next week. Exclusive monthly video content where I dig dive into, an extended look into one of the topics that we've covered during that month and Just Grow Something merch twice a year. There are tiers starting at just $2 per month.
Karin Velez [00:03:39]:
If you're interested in supporting this content, and that's at patreon.com/justgrowsomething. And, of course, that link will be in the show notes. Remember to get your answer in for the question of the month for January. Your fellow gardeners want to know how you plan your garden every season. If it's based on whatever cool varieties you see in the catalogs or the nursery, that counts too. We wanna hear that. Use the link in the episode to leave me a voice message or answer right there in Spotify if that's where you're listening, or go to the contact page on my website, shoot me a message on Instagram or Facebook or email me at email@example.com. You have until January 31st to get me your answer.
Karin Velez [00:04:26]:
And I am happy to announce that registration for my Plan Like a Pro course is now open for the 2024 gardening season. I am super sighted to get to meet another group of you and help you put together all the information we talk about here into a clear plan for how to get the most out of your gardening space. We start with choosing crops for your specific growing conditions and space, determine exactly how many plants you can fit in and use succession planting and interplanting to get the most out of that space. Plus, you end up with a play by play for the entire year laid out on your calendar so you're never at a loss for what comes next, whether that's seed starting or transplanting, feeding, trellising, or harvesting. And this is a technique that you can use each and every year to get your garden planned out and started, and it's the same technique that I use to plan out my own gardens. Go to justgrowsomethingpodcast.com/ pro to get all the information, preview the course, and to register. And, of course, that link will also be in the show notes. I've gotten really good at planning my garden sessions really out of necessity.
Karin Velez [00:05:45]:
When I was gardening just for my family, I very quickly realized that planting all the corn and beans at once meant I was going to be harvesting all the corn and beans at once. And while we had huge harvests and lots of food to give away to friends, I was new to preserving, so I didn't get to take advantage of those huge harvest to keep my family fed the whole year. So it was kind of feast or famine. So much sweet corn all at once. So not only did I very quickly dive into the world of canning and preserving, I also started looking at how I could maximize the harvest while also making sure the harvest was spread throughout the growing season. That was my introduction to figuring out succession planting. A a way to plant a little bit, and then a little more and then a little more so that the harvest was consistent and continuous. Fast forward to us starting our market farm, and this became even more important because now we were feeding other people, and they were relying on us to be consistent.
Karin Velez [00:06:52]:
We're going into our 17th season of selling at the farmers markets and through our community supported agriculture program, and there is no way we'd have been able to feed all those people without understanding succession planting. So what is succession planting exactly. Essentially, succession planting is simply planting crops, either the same crop or crops the growing different seasons at different intervals throughout the growing season, one after another. There are multiple ways that this can happen, and some of the intervals are just a few weeks, while others are, like, a few months. I'll give you some examples. In the spring, it's the perfect time to plant leafy greens like lettuce. But after a while, the leaf lettuce that you cut and allow to regrow may become leggy or bitter. And you can only harvest ahead of lettuce once even though you may be able to grow some loosely from the stock after you've cut it off.
Karin Velez [00:07:47]:
So rather other than waiting until you've grown the complete crop, pulling it up, and then replanting, and having to wait another 6 to 8 weeks to harvest again, you can plant those lettuces successively every 2 weeks. Picture a raised bed that's dedicated to the spring lettuce. Rather than planting the entire bed to lettuce, then harvesting it all and being overwhelmed with too much lettuce, then replanting and waiting another 6 weeks to harvest too much lettuce or maybe not getting a 2nd crop because it's gotten too hot and it got bitter. Let's use succession planting. We'll break the raised bed into 3 sections and plant the lettuce only in the 1st section to start. Then 2 weeks later, we'll plant in the 2nd section. By the time this first section is already growing at a steady click, 2 weeks later, we'll plant the 3rd section. Now the entire bed is planted, but all 3 sections are growing at different stages.
Karin Velez [00:08:49]:
When it's time to harvest the first section. You can usually harvest those plants steadily for about 2 weeks. Once they've been exhausted, the next section of lettuce is ready to harvest. Harvest each section of the bed continuously, and you'll have gotten 6 weeks of harvest off those lettuce plantings without being overrun by lettuce and without a break in your salads. Once the weather is no longer conducive to growing lettuce, you can plant a summer crop in place of the lettuce or plant a cover crop like buckwheat as a placeholder, then start succession plantings all over again in late summer for a fall lettuce crop to take you all the way through to the 1st harvest. Now to plan successions like this in the garden, we need to consider how quickly the plants mature and what kind of weather they like. Rapid succession plants are those that mature in less than 60 days, sometimes as short as 30 days. These are candidates for staggered plantings every 2 to 3 weeks as long as the weather is conducive.
Karin Velez [00:09:52]:
Succession plantings like this can be done to get several crops of just about anything. Some common ones are lettuce, radishes, baby greens, and green onions when you're growing them from sets. Anything that you may want to have continuously, but that wouldn't hold well in the garden for more than a couple of weeks waiting to be picked or that's fairly perishable after harvest and won't store well long term. Now oftentimes, these are our cool season crops, and the successions can be repeated again for fall harvests. Mid range succession crops are those that mature between 60 90 days. These are usually warm season crops like, those bush beans and the sweet corn that we talked about. These crops usually give their entire harvest up over the course of about 2 weeks and can be planted in multiple successions in smaller plots to spread out that harvest. But there are mid range succession plants that don't do well in the summer peat.
Karin Velez [00:10:49]:
These are good candidates for a split succession. Planting an early crop to reach maturity in the 1st part of the season, then planted again later in summer for a fall harvest often with something else planted in between during the hottest part of the season. Starting a large crop of carrots in the spring can clear the way for a succession of sweet corn in the summer, and then the corn can be cleared in time to plant more carrots for fall harvest and overwintering. That is a succession that takes advantage of seasonal temperatures to grow what we want, but without leaving any empty garden space in the beds. Another twist to succession planting is to plant varieties that mature at different rates. Remember that sweet corn I grew and had way too much of all at once? I could have chosen 3 different varieties of corn that matured about 4 weeks apart, planted them all at the same time in the spring, and had 3 smaller harvests throughout the entire season. Now this can be done with a lot of plants, even those that prefer cooler temperatures. If you have a long cool part of the season in spring, it might be practical for you to plant 3 different varieties of broccoli that mature at different rates so that each head can be harvested at its peak, and you get a continuous harvest over a period of several weeks.
Karin Velez [00:12:15]:
Succession planting also works really well for crops that may experience heavy pest pressure. Some examples of this for zucchini and cucumbers. We have so much pressure from squash vine bores, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles that we often plant 3 and even 4 successions of summer squashes and cucumbers. If you have a similar problem in certain crops and want a continuous harvest, here's one way to do it. Plant the initial crop as started seedlings. This gives them a jump on the pests and gives you the possibility of at least a small harvest before the insects do them in. At the same time, plant the next succession as seeds straight in the ground or start them indoors if it's a crop that needs to be transplanted. Once that 2nd crop has come up or has been transplanted and it's getting ready to produce, the 1st round of plants is usually succumbing to the pests.
Karin Velez [00:03:38]:
That's when you pull those plants and plant a 3rd round either straight from seed again or as transplants. By the time the 3rd round of plants gets to maturity, the middle succession will likely be done for, and you can pull those while starting the harvest from the 3rd succession. Sometimes this method keeps me harvesting right up to the 1st frost. Sometimes, I need to plant another round somewhere in there depending on how much pressure there is. You can also skip the middle succession and plant around of some sort of companion plant designed to deter whatever pest is preying on your plants and then plant the late succession into that crop for a fall harvest. With succession planting, you really can double down to ensure you get a harvest on ever schedule you choose.
Karin Velez [00:13:57]:
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Karin Velez [00:15:11]:
Another aspect of succession planting is relay planting. This is sort of a combination of succession planting and the interplanting we talked about last week. And it's good for what we consider long season succession plants. These are crops that take longer than 90 days to mature, or they'll be in the beds for longer than 90 days due to an extended harvest. You likely won't plant multiple crops of these plants, but they're candidates for taking space once another crop has vacated the plot or vice versa. They're often paired with mid range or rapid succession plants. In relay planting, you have 1 crop that's been planted and is already on its way to maturity. Then take a 2nd crop and plant it in among the first one.
Karin Velez [00:16:00]:
Typically, this is whatever crop is gonna take the place of the first one when it's mature. In this way, the 2nd crop gets a little bit of a head start while the first one is still in the ground, maximizing the use of space. This can be done with just about any crop combination so long as they don't compete with each other too much for nutrients. Let's go back to our lettuce bed. Let's say I've got my 3 crops of lettuce going in each section of that bed. Eventually, when the weather warms up, gonna be too hot to grow lettuce, and I'm going to plant my tomatoes there. Once the weather conditions are right, I can just plop those tomato seedlings right in among my lettuce plants. Since the tomato plants are fairly small when they go in, they're not going to overshadow the lettuce enough to slow their growth.
Karin Velez [00:16:47]:
And since lettuce isn't really a heavy feeder, it's not going to take much away from the tomatoes in terms of nutrients. Once the lettuce matures and is harvested, the tomatoes have plenty of space to continue to grow, and they've gotten a head start rather than waiting to be planted until after the lettuce was already harvested. It works the opposite way too. In the late summer when this weather is still warm, I can plant lettuce seeds directly underneath those tomato plants. The soil will be warm enough to germinate those seeds, but the tomato plants will shade the lettuce sprouts to keep them from getting wilted in the summer heat. It. As the lettuce matures, the lower leaves of the tomato plants will be pruned to allow for more room for the lettuce and allow for more light to come in as the days cool off. We can be harvesting lettuce and tomatoes at the same time toward the late fall.
Karin Velez [00:17:36]:
And when the first frost is imminent, we can pull those tomato plants, cover the lettuce with some frost cloth, and continue to harvest lettuce until a hard freeze hits. All this in 1 bed, which saves space in the other areas of the garden for other crops. This goes for just about any of the leafy green crops that like the cooler weather that can be planted with any of the taller heat loving summer crops as long as we're sure they'll be good companions. There are lots of options for relay planting, and you can get super creative with it. We talked last week about relay planting of garlic and peppers and leafy greens. And, yes, succession planting works well in containers too. This can be done in multiple containers with different planting dates or planted all at once with different maturity dates. Relay planting also works well in containers and is a really great way to get more out of a small space.
Karin Velez [00:18:34]:
Just keep the nutrient, sunlight, and space requirements of each plant in mind, and you can really maximize the space in your containers. Now I know that's a lot of information to take in, which is why in Plan Like a Pro, we go into it in-depth with techniques on figuring it all out. But I always post free resources over on the website, and important points are shared in the weekly podcast newsletter. So just do a search for this or any topic on the website, and you'll find links to podcast episodes, articles, and videos. I'm adding more content over there every single week. And if there's something missing, please let me know what information you wanna learn, and I will absolutely cover it. Until next time, my gardening friends. Keep cultivating that dream garden, and we'll talk again soon.
Karin Velez [00:19:19]:
Thanks for listening to another episode of the just grow something podcast. For more information about today's topic and to find all the ways you can get in touch with me or support the show. Go to just grow something podcast.com. Until next time, my gardening friends. Keep learning and keep growing.