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Succession Planting Summer into Autumn

Garden bed succession planting

Summer vegetable gardenSuccession plantings for autumn harvest are made in early- and mid-summer.

Succession planting is the practice of planting a new crop in the same spot where another crop has just been harvested.

Crops for succession planting in early- and mid-summer are cool-season crops—crops that mature and yield best when temperatures average in the 60s and 50sF, not the 70s and 80sF, temperatures preferred by warm-season crops.

Crops to plant for fall harvest include: snap beans, lima beans, cabbage, carrots, Chinese cabbage, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, bunching onions, radish, spinach, winter squash, and turnips. Warm-season crops can be succession plantings but the weather must stay warm enough into autumn for them to ripen.

Successful succession cropping requires timing: make sure there is enough time for the succession crop to germinate and grow to maturity before cold weather arrives. (Check the seed packet to learn how long a crop will take to germinate and reach maturity, then make sure there are enough days left in the season before the date of the average first frost in your area.)  A frost and freeze will knock down and even kill some cool-season crops, but some cool-season crops can survive a frost or freeze if they are close to maturity and harvest.

When choosing succession crops, be sure that they get enough sunlight and are not shaded out by neighboring warm-season crops nearing maturity.

Here is a list of warm-season crops and suitable cool-season crops to follow in succession planting:

  • Basil→ follow with lettuce, spinach, or peas.
  • Snap Beans→ follow with lettuce, chard, or onions.
  • Corn→ follow with beets, cabbage, collard, or lettuce.
  • Cucumbers→ follow with peas, chard, or spinach.
  • Eggplants→ follow with chard, lettuce, spinach, or bunching onions.
  • Melons→ follow with peas, lettuce, kale, or spinach.
  • Okra→ follow with spinach or lettuce.
  • Onions→ follow with peas, lettuce, kale, or spinach.
  • Peppers→ follow with lettuce, spinach, kale, bunching onions, or Chinese cabbage.
  • Potatoes→ follow with peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, or bunching onions.
  • Summer squash and zucchini→ follow with peas, lettuce, spinach, or Chinese cabbage.
  • Sweet potatoes→ follow with peas, lettuce, kale, or spinach.
  • Tomatoes→ follow with peas, lettuce, spinach, bunching onions, or Chinese cabbage.

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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