Succession Planting Keeping the Production Going
Having a continuous supply of vegetables takes a bit of planning; it doesn’t just happen by planting and sowing at one time.
I have had lettuces growing in 2 containers made from old cases which were no longer travel worthy.
Just recently I tipped out my first case lettuce garden contents after they had gone to seed and come to the end of their productive life cycle. I cut the tops off and chopped them up with the lawn mower as I mowed the lawn so they were mixed up with the grass clippings.
I used this to start a new compost heap and also added the used growing mix from in the case so it could be rejuvenated; it was all full of roots.
It is great to be able to recycle organic matter in this way so it can be used again to grow more veggies.
Now I have refilled the case with fresh compost and sown another crop of lettuce.
In order to have a continuous supply of produce you need to be thinking and planning a head.
Especially things with short growing cycles aren’t going to keep on producing for the whole season so you need to be making a succession of sowings/plantings if you want to be harvesting throughout the season.
This is called succession planting also known as successive planting or staggered planting.
Timing of successive plantings or sowings is dependent on the time it takes for a crop to reach maturity which will vary between different varieties of the same crop or different crops. It will also depend on your growing conditions and whether or not it is early on in the season when conditions are ideal for growing or later on when growth slows down as temperatures fall.
Seed packets and plant labels give good information with estimated times to maturity and even suggested times for successive planting or sowing.
It takes a bit of planning and organizing to keep the production continually going. It can also depend on how many containers you have available to use and available space.
I am using lettuces from my 2nd case garden now; it will be interesting to see if they will keep producing until the ones I have just sown start producing. It appears that ideally I should have 3 containers at different stages rather than just 2 to avoid a gap in supply. But I also could have sown lettuce in smaller containers and had them ready to prick out or plant when the container became available to speed the cycle up. Another alternative could have been to have purchased transplants rather than sowing seed.
It may take a few seasons to get it right and conditions are never exactly the same season to season.
It is a good idea to keep a diary of your gardening activities; documenting when you sow and plant when you start to harvest and when you stop harvesting etc.
You can use this data to figure out how long the interval between sowing or planting needs to be so that when one crop is finishing the next one is starting and you have no gap in production.
The key thing to know is the length of your harvest period.
This will determine the timing of your subsequent sowings or plantings. If your harvest period is 4wks you will need to make successive sowings or plantings every 3-4wks.
It will depend on your climate and length of growing season how many sowings/ plantings you can make if you are dealing with a crop that doesn’t stand frost. Your last sowing/planting will need time to mature before the frosts arrive.
You can learn more about succession planting in my eBook.