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Planning Succession Crops

Garden bed succession planting1

Garden bed succession plantingSuccession planting will allow you to plant several times throughout the growing season for a continuous supply of fresh vegetables.

To plan succession crops you must know two things:

The number of weeks of growing season in your garden. The length of the growing season is the number weeks between the last frost in spring and the first frost in autumn. The local cooperative extension office can tell you the length of the growing season in your location or you can ask an experienced gardener at a nearby garden center.

The number of weeks each crop you wish to grow requires to germinate, grow, and reach harvestable size. The chart below will help you make these calculations. Note the number of weeks a particular crop require in the garden can vary by variety–for example, some varieties of corn require more days to reach harvest than others.

So here is your succession cropping planning formula:

Number of days to harvest for Crop 1 + Number of days to harvest for Crop 2 = Total number of days in the garden. You can add Crop 3 as long as the total continues to be less than the number of days in the growing season.

One more note, growing seasons can be extended on either end by a few weeks with the use of season extenders: cloches, plastic tunnels, and cold frames. Season extenders keep the growing temperatures right for crops.

Here are some successions that would fill the same garden space for 7 to 8 months:

• Cabbage→ Green Onions→ Spinach

• Carrot→ Beets→ Peppers

• Lettuce → Peas → Turnips

• Radish → Corn → Winter Squash

• Snap Beans → Broccoli

• Kale → Cucumbers

• Melons → Pumpkins → Beets

• Broad Beans → Cauliflower

• Potatoes → Broccoli

• Spinach → Sweet Potatoes

• Asparagus → Summer Squash

• Green Onions → Garlic

• Corn → Rutabagas

• Chard → Melons → Endive

Use the following chart to help plan you garden successions. Note the harvest period can extend over several weeks, for example baby carrots are harvested well before mature carrots, and the number of weeks to maturity can vary by crop variety.

Vegetable Weeks to maturity Weeks in extended harvest period Possible number of successions in 8 months Plants per person each planting
 Asparagus  seed: 4 yrs root: 1 yr  8  1  5
 Artichoke  perennial  8  1  1
 Arugula  6  2-4  4  5
 Beans, snap  8  6-10  2  15
 Beans, shell  8-9  6-10  1-2  20
 Beans, dried  9+  2  1  20
 Beets  8-9  3-6  4  15
 Broccoli  8-9  6  2  5
 Brussels sprouts  11-13  6-10  1  2
 Cabbage  9-16  4  2  2-3
 Carrots  9-11  9-11  3  50
 Cauliflower  8-12  2  2  1
 Celery  12-16  11  2  5
 Chard, Swiss  7-8  6-20  2  3
 Chinese cabbage  7-12  4  3-4  5
 Collards  12  8-16  2  5
 Corn salad (mâche)  8-11  1-2  8  10
 Corn, sweet  9-13  1  3  10-15
 Cucumber  7-10  8  2  3
 Eggplant  10-11  10  1  3
 Escarole-endive  6-7  6  3  6
 Florence fennel  9-13  6  3  10
 Garlic  17-44  4  2  1-3
 Horseradish  26  12-15  1  1
 Kale  8-9  6-15  2  5
 Kohlrabi  7-8  2  2  6
 Leeks  19  6-15  1  10-25
 Lettuce, leaf  6-12  3-6  4  8
 Melons  12-17  6-10  1  3
 Mustard greens  5-6  6-12  3  5
 New Zealandspinach  10  6-12  1  3
 Okra  7-8  6-12  1  5
 Onions, bulb  14-17  6  1  20
 Onions, bunching  8-17  6-12  1  20
 Parsnips  15  6-15  1  12
 Peas (snap and shell)  8-11  4-8  2  30-50
 Peanuts  14-21  2-3  1  5-10
 Peppers (sweet)  9-12  8-12  1  3
 Potatoes (Irish)  9-17  2-3  2  5
 Pumpkins  14-16  4-6  1  1
 Radicchio  12  5  1  10
 Radish  3-9  1-2  8  12
 Rutabaga  13  3-6  1  5
 Salsify  17  6-15  1  12
 Scallions  17-26  10-12  2  20-25
 Shallots  9-17  4-6  2  3
 Spinach  6-7  3-6  4  10
 Squash, summer  7-10  6-12  2  1-2
 Squash, winter  11-17  2-4  1  2
 Sunchoke  17  8-16  1  4
 Sunflower  10-11  2  1  2
 Sweet potatoes  13-34  4-8  1  5
 Tomatillos  17  6-15  1  1-2
 Tomatoes  8-13  6-15  1  3
 Turnips  5-10  2-4  2  3-5
 Turnip greens  5  2-6  4  2-3
 Watermelon  10-13  6-10  1  1
 Zucchini  7-9  6-12  2  1

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. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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