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Succession Planting and Winter Storage

Garden rows with straw1

Garden rows with strawSuccession planting in the home vegetable garden will supply the table not only through the summer months, but also for late fall and winter. Plan and plant in late spring and early summer succession crops for harvest from fall through early spring.

Succession planting is the planting of one crop immediately after the harvest of another. Succession planting is also called succession cropping.

Cool region successions. Crops planted in summer for the late fall harvest in cool regions include beans, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, endive, lettuce, peas, radishes, and green tomatoes for pickling and ripening after frost.

Vegetables that can be started in summer for winter are beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, salsify, squash, and turnips.

Warm region successions. In warm-winter regions, heat loving vegetables can be planted in early summer for harvest in fall (when the weather is often still hot). Crops for warm regions include: summer squash, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, green beans, and chard.

Crops for winter storing. Harvesting crops at the right stage of development is the key to success for both fresh serving and storing. To taste best and to store best, vegetables should be matured but not fully developed at harvest.

After reaching maturity vegetables undergo a ripening process that precedes decay. In the case of root crops, for example, the start of decay is accompanied by toughening plant fibers, “stringiness” and general deterioration of table quality.

Plant crops for winter use with the idea of having vegetable reach good table size by the date you wish to harvest for winter storage. The planting date will vary with local climatic conditions just as spring planting do. When planning succession planting dates keep in mind the days to maturity for each crop and the date of the first expected frost in autumn. Crops must be planted to have time to develop before freezing weather.

Select varieties suitable for late sowings. Choose early and extra early varieties for succession cropping. Early and extra early varieties come to harvest more quickly than other mid- and late-season varieties of the same crop.

Sowing and planting in dry weather. Dry weather or poor soil at the time of sowing may delay things so that the crop will fail to come through on time. Soil amended with aged compost will be both rich in nutrients and hold moisture in droughty conditions. Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season.

Success in sowing or transplanting in dry weather frequently hinges upon getting the soil pressed firmly round the seeds or plant roots. Use the butt of your hand of a roller to lightly press the soil. Bean and pea seeds are particular about having good contact with the surrounding soil. If weather is very dry, moisten the sowing bed or apply water to before setting in transplants.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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