Succession Planting is the practice of planting the same type of plant at certain intervals – say for example, every two to four weeks. Doing this with the vegetables that you most use, will give you a much longer supply of those vegetables for your family.
This works best with plants that grow well for most parts of the year; or if you're lucky enough to live in a temperate climate, even all year round.
It works like this. Say you plant lettuce at the beginning of September. You only need to grow a short row because you would plant a second row in early October; then another in early November. By the time you're planting your November succession, your September lettuce are mature enough to eat (I prefer the type where you pick and come again, rather than harvesting the whole plant). If you keep planting a row of lettuce at the start of each month, you will always have lettuce ready to pick straight from your organic garden.
You won't be vulnerable to availability in the supermarket or price hikes either.
Now if you don't use a great deal of lettuce, you may not need to plant that often. Or maybe you could plant a similar salad crop in alternative months; say rocket, or beetroot, maybe different varieties of lettuce. Use your best guess to suit the needs of your family.
Some plants that can work great as succession plants include: lettuce, rocket, radish, spring onions, cucumbers and carrots.
Others that work well in the main growing season include: bush beans, corn, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, silver-beet and spinach; even zucchini. Have a go at experimenting with various vegetables that your family loves. If you have wonderful yields and have excess you can always give some to family and friends.
That brings me to another way your organic vegetable garden can be really productive. You can extend the length of your growing season by using different varieties of the same vegetable.
Try growing an early, mid-season and late variety of your favourite vegetables. That way you'll have more vegetables for more of the year, making whatever space you have available giving you better yields.
You will find many fruiting plants are available in early, mid-season and late varieties too – again making it easier to provide for your family from your organic garden. Many fruiting trees can grow branches that fruit over extended periods by grafting different varieties on the one tree. Great for small gardens!
The real secret to succession (or successive) planting is planning – as with just about everything in the garden. Keep yourself a garden diary or journal so you know when to put in your next crop. This will really be very beneficial in seasons to come. You won't have to rely on your memory to see what worked and what could be improved on this year. Plus there's the bonus of having in writing what you grew too much of and what you really could have done with more of.
Try saving some of your own seed too, as I find growing my own vegetables from seed one of my greatest joys in life - plus it will save you a bundle.
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