what is succession planting

What is Succession Planting + 15 Simple Examples

Looking for a way to maximize your small garden space? Learn exactly what is succession planting as well as get some succession planting examples for your vegetable garden!

Succession planting is a great way to grow big in your garden season even with a small garden space! But, planning your garden with succession planting in mind can be tricky! 

That’s exactly why I have created this beginner’s guide for succession planting! By the end of the article, you’ll be able to answer the question, “what is succession planting?” as well as be able to navigate planning your very own 3 or 4 season garden! 

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What is succession planting

Succession planting is a gardening technique that involves planting crops in phases or stages rather than all at once. This method allows for continuous harvest throughout the growing season, ensuring a steady supply of fresh produce. It is a great way to maximize space and extend the harvest period, especially for the backyard kitchen gardener.

Benefits of Succession Planting

There are a ton of benefits for succession planting especially if you are growing in a small growing space! Here are a few of the benefits for succession planting. 

Maximized Yield

Succession planting ensures that your garden space remains productive throughout the growing season. By promptly replacing harvested crops with new ones, you can make the most of your garden’s resources, soil nutrients, and sunlight, thereby increasing overall yield.

Extended Harvest Season

The staggered planting done with succession planting allows you to space out your harvests, leading to a prolonged gardening season. Instead of harvesting all your crops at once, you can enjoy a continuous supply of fresh produce over an extended period. This allows you to get a head start on your garden season, as well as allows you to try different varieties of crops without having an overabundance of harvest

Better Pest and Disease Management

Succession planting can help mitigate pest and disease problems. By regularly removing spent crops and replacing them with new ones, you disrupt the life cycles of pests and reduce the buildup of diseases that can affect plants. Additionally, rotating crops with different families or species during succession planting can further deter pests and diseases, as it interrupts their favored environment and food source.

Tips for Planning for Succession planting

Practically, succession planting can be as easy or a difficult as you’d like it to be! As a home gardener, however, I lean into simplicity! Keeping a few guidelines in mind with any technique I use in the garden is the best way for me to make those techniques stick. It also keeps me from having to constantly look for references! 

Here are a few of the guidelines I follow when planning my garden for succession planting with different crops!

Know the type of season for each crops

The first thing you want to know is the season category of each crop! Crops can be categorized in a ton of different ways but one of the best ways is by season category! 

There are 3 basic categories here, and knowing where each crop lies can help you decide how to succeed crops! The three categories are:

Cool-Season Crops

These crops are those are that frost hardy and can be planted in late winter/early spring, and in fall. Cool-weather crops such as brassicas (like brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli), spring peas, alliums, spinach, lettuce, carrots, radishes, beets.

Warm-Season Crops

Warm season crops are generally our fruiting summer crops. In most cases they are frost tender and require protection in case of frost. They include tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplants, sweet corn, green beans and melons.

Hot Season Crops

These are going to be crops that thrive in the heat of the summer! They include crops such as shelling beans, peppers, and okra.

There is some overlap with the warm and hot season crops, however, you will notice that production will significantly slow down during the heat of summer for warm season crops. These crops will increase production in late summer when temperatures start to cool as you get closer to fall. 

Know the Estimated Harvest Time

Understanding how long each crop takes to mature is crucial when planning succession planting. You’ll need to know when to start seeds as well as the estimated number of days it takes for crops to mature, so that you can be prepared to either plant seeds or transplant into the vacant space after a crop is spent.

Consider Companion Plants

Another guideline I use in succession planting is having a healthy understanding of companion planting! Especially when it comes to which herbs/flowers I am planting around my main crops! I want the herbs and flowers to be compatible with multiple main crops, so I plan my successions around this!

Also Read: Ep. 11 – What is Companion Planting + FREE Printable Companion Planting Chart

Plan ahead

Now, even with guidelines, it’s important to know that succession planting does require a little bit of planning! At the very least, knowing when to start seeds indoors or purchase transplants so that you are prepared for the end of harvest for the first crop and beginning of a new crop planting!

This is YOUR YEAR to Successfully Grow Food!

The Square Foot Garden Planner is the Ultimate tool to help you turn your garden dreams into reality!

Whether you are a complete beginner or a gardener with years of experience, this quick reference guide will help you Maximize your garden space, choose the right plants and companions, and successfully grow your own fresh produce!

square foot garden planner

Also Read: Ep. 16 – 8 Simple Garden Layout Tips + FREE Garden Planning Worksheet

Succession Planting Examples

Now let’s look at a few succession planting examples that you can use in your garden. These are successions that I use in my own as well!

Leafy Greens

The simplest succession planting example is to do a successive planting of the same crop. I do this with my lettuce plants. I sow lettuce seeds in rows every couple of weeks so that I have a continuous supply of lettuce throughout the cooler season!

This can also be done with quick growing crops like Kohlrabi, Tatsoi, and Bush Beans. 

Herbs

Another succession that can be beneficial is annual herb successions. This is particularly beneficial for plantings of cilantro which can quickly bolt (get bitter and begin going to seed). Additionally, you can do successions of cilantro and then plant Culantro which is a heat loving herb that mimics some of the flavor of cilantro!

Root Crops

Root crops like radishes and carrots can be a beneficial succession as sowing over multiple weeks ensures that you do not have a huge abundance of harvest and then waste because you cannot use it all. Consider sowing seeds weekly from about 6 weeks before your last frost date to your actual last frost. 

Seasonal Succession Planting Examples

The last succession example to consider based on the seasonal category of the crops. This is the best way to have a 3-season garden! With this example you choose a cool season crop, a warm/hot season crop, and another cool season crop (or a short time to harvest warm season crop). Plant the cool season crop early in the season, when it’s time to harvest, plant your warm/hot season crop, and then when production slows, consider planting another cool season or warm season crop.

Here are a few examples of this from my garden:

  • Onions – Squash – Garlic
  • Cabbage – Okra – Garlic
  • Kohlrabi – Beans – Peas
  • Tatsoi – Squash – Cabbage
  • Potatoes – Beans – Broccoli
  • Potatoes – Sweet Potatoes – Beans
  • Onions – Corn – Broccoli
  • Peas – Melons – Beans
  • Lettuce – Swiss chard – garlic

Extend your Garden season with Succession planting

Succession planting is absolutely a method of gardening that you should consider if you want to maximize your harvests and keep a continuous supply of fresh produce. With the right planning, it can help you extend your growing season and make the most out of your garden space.

Check us out on Instagram as we are always sharing what’s going on in our garden!

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