Double Your Harvest with Second Plantings
When spring and early summer crops have been harvested, keep the garden going with succession planting. We are blessed with a long growing season in our area, but even in colder regions, getting two or more crops from a single plot of land is a goal that most gardeners can achieve. For best results, here are a few tips.
“Early” varieties take less time and may work in your rotation. Seed may not be available at the last minute, or you may need to start the plants indoors before planting out due to time constraints or soil temperatures (hot summer soil may hinder germination rates of some plants). Knowing the plan before acting can make the difference in time saved.
First Frost Date
Know how much time is left in your growing season. Radishes can grow if you only have a month left before the first frost date. If you have two months, you can grow lots of things.
Rules of Crop Rotation
Succession planting should follow the normal rules of crop rotation. Plant something unrelated to the previous crop. This will help provide protection against insects and diseases, as well as pulling different levels of nutrients from the soil.
Amend the soil between crops
Till in the residue of the prior crop. In the case of insect or disease prone crops like squash or tomatoes, you may want to destroy the residue away from the garden and amend with compost instead. Either way, building the soil fertility between crops is a necessity for the successive crop.
Take care with transplants
If planting transplants, do it in the evening to help reduce transplant shock. Water them in well and mulch them to keep the soil cool.
If planting seeds, water lightly every day that it doesn’t rain to keep the soil from crusting. Once they sprout, water more deeply but less frequently to encourage a deeper root system.
Alternative strategies for succession planting include “under-planting”, which places the successive crop in the bed while its predecessor is still there; or “incremental planting”, which places the successive crop in gaps where the predecessor is gradually harvested. For instance, carrots which can take a relatively long time to germinate can be seeded in the shade of pepper or tomato plants. Broccoli can be gradually planted in the spaces where early carrots were harvested.
Our ‘Contender’ green beans are nearly exhausted and have given us at least 8 gallons of beans. We have started our second planting of the beans to ensure plenty more in the next couple of months!
Succession planting will allow you to mix it up and be creative. Most of all, enjoy the garden!