What is Succession Planting?

Planting cabbage
Succession planting allows you to use the same gardening space for multiple crops. Try planting beans first and then plant cabbage once the beans have been harvested.

Succession planting is a planting method where you use the same gardening space more than one time during  a gardening season.

There are several planting options available for your succession planting plants. Each allows you to increase crop availability during a growing season by making efficient use of space and timing. With this strategy, you need to fully understand a plant’s life cycle and plan appropriately for a successful growing season.

Succession planting consists of 3 basic methods. These methods are general strategies for planting times and their success will vary depending on your gardening zone and weather. Colder climates, for example, may not have sufficient growing time to accommodate two or more harvests.

Method 1: Same Vegetable in Succession

Plantings of the same crop can be spaced out to avoid a “feast or famine” harvest of that crop.  Initial yields of a crop tend to be heavy with following yields tapering off. By planting your seeds or seedlings about 2-4 weeks after one another, you will end up having a larger yield over an extended period of time.

Since they are used to supplement many recipes, carrots are a great plant to grow again and again in your garden.

Method 2: Different Vegetable in Succession

Seeds with short growing periods can be harvested and then cleared to allow for a new crop to utilize the space. For example, you may choose to grow a plot of peas which have a short growing season, and after their harvest use that space to grow a completely different vegetable.

Cool weather crops are another good “starter” crop for this sort of succession planting. After that, you want to plant a crop that’s on an early summer planting schedule.  For example, you could start a lettuce plant early in the season, and when that’s no longer viable, switch the space to grow sweet corn.

Method 3: Same Vegetable, Different Varieties

Succession planting can be a huge benefit to gardeners working in small spaces.

Succession planting can be a huge benefit to gardeners working in small spaces.

One crop can offer multiple varieties (i.e. tomatoes offer 7,500!) and therefore can be used to harvest at various times. Varieties will have differing maturity dates; information which can be found online or on the seed packet. Choose a few varieties and space out their harvests so that you can enjoy them throughout the summer and fall seasons.

Plants that can be used include corn, tomatoes, beans, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and more!

Which Method Is Best?

The succession planting method you choose is largely dependent on personal preference. If you’d like to have a certain vegetable all season, you’ll choose a method that supports that. But if you’re looking to plant all sorts of vegetables in a limited space you’ll choose a method promoting variety.

Once you decide which school of thought you’ll adopt, you can get started!

Succession Planting Suggestions

There are many combinations you can try in your vegetable succession planting efforts. Here are a few ideas, just make sure you are in the proper Hardiness Zone and will have the time for each crop to mature before your first frost:

  • Beans then cabbage
  • Beans then kale
  • Broccoli then corn
  • Beets then Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots then spinach
  • Cilantro then basil
  • Cilantro then dill
  • Lettuce then beans
  • Lettuce then sweet corn
  • Peas then beans
  • Peas then beets
  • Peas then carrots
  • Peas then cherry tomatoes
  • Peas then cucumbers
  • Peas then summer squash
  • Peas then winter squash
  • Spinach then beans

Beyond Vegetables

Don’t limit your succession planting to just vegetables. You can also switch to planting herbs or even flowers. These combinations provide you with an endless set of options for your garden and yard.

Your Succession Planting Efforts

What plants have you had successes with while using succession planting? We would love to hear about your unique combinations and how well the worked. Let us know in the comments below.

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