Gardening Articles: Care :: Seeds & Propagation

Keep on Planting! (page 2 of 3)

by Susan Littlefield

Tips for Succession Success

How Long is your Growing Season? Simply put, the longer the growing season in your area, the more crops you can grow in succession. Gardeners in cool, short-season climates may only be able to plant two successive crops, while those in warmer parts of the country may be able to squeeze in three or more. In the warmest sections, it's even possible to grow certain hardy crops, like onions or collards, right through the winter months.

Check the Days to Maturity To know if your crop will have time to mature before cold weather arrives, an important consideration when planting for an end-of-the-season harvest, check the days to maturity listed on the seed packet. Choose varieties that mature quickly if your season is short. To figure our when to sow your crop, take the days to maturity listed on the seed packet and count back that number of days from your fall frost date to get your seed planting date. If the days to maturity listed are from transplanting, add six weeks to this figure to know when to sow your seeds. It's a good idea to add an additional week or two to these dates since plants won't be growing as fast as the days get shorter and cooler in the fall.

Plant a Little, Plant a Lot Sow fast-maturing crops that bear abundantly over a relatively short time, like bush beans, dill and cilantro, in small amounts every ten days to two weeks. This way you won't be overwhelmed by too much produce at once and you'll have a continuous supply of tender fresh veggies and herbs.

Succession Combos to Try Here are a few tried-and-true succession planting combinations to try that work well in many parts of the country.

* Spinach, followed by bush beans, followed by kale

* Mesclun greens, followed by cucumbers, followed by lettuce

* Peas, followed by sweet corn, followed by collards

* Radishes, followed by eggplant, followed by Chinese cabbage

Chill Out One of the challenges of sowing seeds of lettuce and spinach in summer for fall harvest is that the warm soil induces dormancy in the seeds. To overcome this problem, refrigerate seeds for a week or two before planting. Be sure to keep young seedlings well watered and give them some shade from the hot midsummer sun.

Sow for Fresh Harvest and Storage Grow both early and late varieties of crops like beets and carrots. Choose a faster-maturing variety for fresh harvest earlier in the season and plant a later-sown variety to mature at the end of the season for storage over the winter.

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