Gardening should be easy – toss some seeds out, water them, and in a month or so, harvest the fruits of your labor. In theory, it is that easy. More often than not, there are better gardening methods that you can implement to get the most out of your backyard garden. Instead of harvesting your vegetables just once, wouldn't it be more awesome to harvest them continually over the summer? You can grow more food with succession planting than you can with just regular planting. Succession planting is when you continually grow the same plant in the same space over the course of the growing season.
How to Use Succession Planting to Grow More Food
One of the easiest ways to explain succession planting is with lettuce. This week, spread lettuce seeds over your seedling mix and water them in well. You can start harvesting the baby leaves in as little as 2-3 weeks. Every week, add more seeds to this same seedling mix. In turn, you will be able to harvest lettuce every week as you put more seed down. This only works for lettuce varieties that you don't want to grow a head. Try mesclun, looseleaf, spinach, Radicchio and Romaine – just harvest before the heads are formed.
Succession planting works well for carrots and radishes too. Instead of seeding weekly, sow seeds every 2-3 weeks. Also, anytime you harvest the carrot or radish (they're ready when they pop their shoulders out of the ground), plant another seed in that hole. By succession planting in these two ways, you can double what you will harvest from both the carrots and the radishes.
Another way to succession plant is by staggering your planting schedule. For instance, if you plant a determinate tomato plant today, all of the tomatoes will ripen at the same time. You can start tomato seeds a couple weeks apart so that the plants ripen at different times.
Good Vegetables for Succession Planting
- Lettuce – Mesclun, Looseleaf, Romaine, Radicchio
- Bush beans
More Tips for Growing Vegetables
- How to Grow Artichokes
- How to Grow Asparagus
- How to Grow Corn
- How to Summer Squash
- How to Grow Zucchini
- How to Grow Eggplant
- How to Grow Green Beans
- How to Grow Rhubarb
- How to Grow Green Peppers
Kristi Trimmer can be found on DragonflyRunning.com. This was originally published on July 8, 2015. It was updated April 13, 2018.