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Succession Planting To Maximize Your Harvest

A successful harvest can mean different things to different gardeners. It could mean more of the heirloom tomatoes you've been searching for, it could mean getting through the season without a pest infestation or it could mean 2 out of the 3 vegetables you wanted yielded the most crops.

Today we are going to be talking about succession planting and how it can provide a consistent supply of havestable produce throughout the season. Succession planting is the practice of seeding crops in intervals of 7 to 21 days in order to maintain a consistent supply of harvest throughout the season. This practice can be done in all sized gardens and garden beds.

How to plan out your succession planting

When it comes to succession planting remember that there is no right or wrong way to do it. However, here are some things to keep in mind when planning your planting:

The season: Make sure the vegetables or fruits you choose are suitable for the current season.

The type of plants you enjoy: You want to plant vegetables, fruits and herbs that you and your household enjoy the most.

Your climate zone and microclimate: Keeping your climate in mind is important as it help you plant accordingly for extreme climates such as snow, heavy rain or high heat.

Plan for unexpected factors: It's important to plan for the unexpected such as droughts or pest infestations.

Consider how the vegetables of your choice are harvested

Once you have figured out the veggies or fruits that are in season and the types of veggies you enjoy to eat in your household, another factor to consider is how these vegetables are harvested. There are three types: Cut and come again vegetables: These are plants that provide multiple harvests over the growing season. Some examples of cut and come again vegetables include; Arugula, Chard, Cilantro, collard greens, cress, kale, parsley and spinach.

One and done vegetables: Are vegetables that once harvested require to be seeded and start the growing process again. Some examples of one and done vegetables include; cabbage, bok choy, brussel sprouts, beets, turnips, parsnips, carrots and radishes.

Versatile Vegetables: Are vegetables that can be either cut and come again or one in done, this is depending on how they are harvested. Some examples of versatile veggies include; certain varieties of broccoli, bok choy, celery, chicory and lettuce.

Day Maturity is another important factor to consider, every seed is different so make sure to check your seed packet for the “days to maturity” date. This simply means how many days you should expect it to take between sowing the seed and harvesting the plant.

Succession Sowing

After deciding what vegetables you would like to grow in your garden and figuring out which are cut and come again, one and done or versatile. The next step is to begin sowing your seeds and planting your seedlings. Keep in mind that succession planting, means you will begin immediately putting in new seeds once you harvest out a maturing plant. For example radishes, they are one and done vegetables they are also fast maturing. So once you harvest your first round of radishes you will immediately sow your next round of radishes. You will do this same practice with other seeded vegetables so that you continuously grow vegetables all season.

For beginner gardeners it is recommended to try different plants in the same space. This method involves utilizing the same garden space to grow more than one crop in succession. By composting plants as soon as they have passed their prime and replanting with something different, no space in the garden is left unused.

For leafy greens it's important to note the “days until baby greens” can be harvested and “days until full maturity”. Certain leafy greens such as kale and arugula, it is preferred to sow them densely, then thin out the least vigorous plants so that they can be eaten as baby greens. Baby greens are available for salads between 3-4 weeks after sowing and you can leave the more robust parts of the plant to fully mature.

Now you know a little more about succession planting you can decide if this is a practice you would like incorporate into your winter garden. You can also start small by using this practice for certain vegetables. Remember that gardening should be fun and experimenting and trying new things is part of the fun!

The best vegetables for succession plating are:

  • Arugula

  • Basil

  • Pole Beans

  • Beets

  • Broccoli

  • Carrots

  • Chicory

  • Cilantro

  • Dill

  • Endive

  • Green Onion

  • Kale

  • Lettuce

  • Mustard

  • Bok Choy

  • Radish

  • Spinach

  • Swiss chard

  • Turnips

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