Saturday, June 6, 2009

Vegetable Gardening: Succession Cropping

In the early spring, the cooler months, that is when I get my spinach, radishes and lettuce in the ground. Within a month or so I have fresh vegetables ready to be harvested. The only problem is once I pick those vegetables it leaves me empty space.

Succession cropping is the process by which you plant something new, typically a warmer weather plant, into the area vacated by a cooler weather plant like those mentioned above.

When you properly plan out in advance your succession cropping you can easily three crops from the same area. For example, in the spring you plant your lettuce, then the weather warms up, spinach is done so you replace it with squash or tomatoes. As the hot summer months come to a close and it gets cooler again, you can put the spinach back in and get some more.

The possibilities are endless in regards to the combination of vegetables that you can plan out. Succession cropping comes particularly useful to those who are limited with space but want lots of fresh vegetables.

Here is a short list of vegetables that grow in cooler climates:
• Arugula
• Beets
• Broccoli
• Brussels Sprouts
• Carrots
• Escarole
• Fava Beans
• Garlic
• Kale
• Leeks
• Lettuce
• Mustard Greens
• Onions
• Radishes
• Spinach

Once the warmer weather sets in and after they have been harvested (of course), replace the empty area with warmer weather vegetables such as:
• Tomatoes (all kinds)
• Peppers (all kinds)
• Squash (all kinds)
• Egg Plant
• Beans
• Corn
• Cucumbers
• Melons (all kinds)
• Okra
• Pumpkins (start in warmer months can go through cooler months)
• Sweet Potato

As you can see you have a variety of options and combinations. If you might be thinking (if you are advanced in your gardening hobby) that you want to plant something in the warmer weather that won’t require similar nutrients as the plant that grew in the cooler months, it is best to visit the United States Department of Agriculture website and look up the nutritional information they may have for a variety of vegetable and fruit species.

I have an average sized garden, and I do my best to take advantage of the space I do have. Succession gardening gives me and can give you the added space you need without having to add more space. Combine succession gardening with raised bed gardening and potting containers, and you will see just how many more vegetables you are able to grow in the same space you currently have.

About the Author
Michael is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person. It is a practical easy to follow book that teaches gardeners everything from composting techniques, aeration and frost conditions, to choosing the right tools and picking the right seeds. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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