Succession Planting in Your Vegetable Garden

Rows of lettuce in varying stages of size and maturity

The garden pictured has multiple varieties of lettuce, sown on multiple dates. This gardener will be harvesting for months! Photo: Mats Hansson, pixbay

On August 8th some gardeners celebrate a very unique holiday. It's "Sneak Some Zucchini on to Your Neighbor's Porch Day!" Of course, in Florida, we enjoy two zucchini seasons and we almost never experience harvest anxieties in August. But regardless of the month, overly successful gardeners understand. "Too many fresh veggies" is a good problem to have, but it's still a problem.

Tired of watching your favorite crop go to waste? You may want to try succession planting.

Succession planting means planting crops so that they ripen a few plants at a time. This way you will harvest in small batches, over many weeks, rather than all at once.

There are many ways to plant "successively." You can space out the ripening period by having multiple sowing dates. You can plant multiple varieties. You can take advantage of the change of season. Planting in succession is a great technique for any vegetable garden, large or small.

Option 1: Multiple Planting Dates

One approach to succession planting is to begin several separate plantings of the same vegetable. We plant lettuce, for example, from October through February. Instead of planting a dozen rows on October 1st, plant a couple rows every month. With multiple planting dates, your garden will yield fresh lettuce for a longer period of time. A slow, steady supply is an improvement on the harvesting frenzy that lasts only a couple weeks. The method for succession planting works best for crops with long planting windows, like lettuce and corn.

Option 2: Multiple Varieties

You can also practice succession planting by planting several varieties of the same crop. Most varieties have different numbers of "days to maturity." By planting several different varieties at the same time gardeners enjoy multiple harvests. This method works well for carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, and more. You'll get to enjoy a little more variety with this method, too.

A thumbnail size version of the what to plant in September infographic; click to see larger version

Option 3: Multiple Seasons

Succession planting also helps gardeners take advantage of Florida's year-round growing season. And many Florida gardeners are already doing this. When the fall warm-season crops wind down, we plant again with cool-season crops. To avoid garden down time, re-plant row by row as crops stop producing.

By planting successively, you'll have enough produce to feed your family, all season. No more anonymous gifts of zucchini.

For more information on vegetable gardening, contact your local county extension office.

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