Successional vegetable planting

KJ Reyland | 25 October, 2022

            Successional vegetable planting

What is successional planting?

One comment people often make after beginning to grow their own vegetables, is how you end up with 6 cabbages ready at once and then none for months while the new crop grows. You can swap out cabbage for any other crop, the issue remains.

How can I plant successionally?

The way to avoid the feast or famine situation is to avoid planting all your veges at once. Instead plan to plant a smaller number, for instance two or three to start and then plant another two in two weeks time and so on. This way, you always have vegetables growing at different stages and when the first crop are harvested, the following crops will come to maturity in succession according to when they were planted.

This way you can keep your garden full and avoid running out of vegetables. You also don't have to scramble to process and preserve 6 of one vegetable at a time, unless you were planning to.

Different methods to plant successionally

If you plant with seedlings there are mixed punnets available that have, for instance 2x of 3 different brassicas. So you can simply buy a mixed punnet every few weeks and plant it. Alternatively if you have friends or neighbours who are gardeners, you might be able to share punnets of one variety so every one gets 2 each.

You can also sow seeds in small amounts so you have seedlings developing at different times. Growing from seed does give you more control over varieties of vegetables you want to grow and guarantees availability when you want /need  them. Growing from seeds is also very economical.

If you have options like a glass house available to you, plants will grow much faster compared to outside in the garden so you can utilise growth rate difference as well!

Do I plant everything successionally?

Take into account that not all varieties grow at the same rate and you can use this to your advantage. Some vegetables also hold very well in the ground without going to seed.

Seed potatoes for example have different maturing times, with 'early' varieties taking as little as 70-80 days and the main crop varieties taking 100 days or more. If you plant different varieties, they will be ready to harvest at different times over the season and they will also hold under the soil to be dug up and harvested with no issue.

When looking at Tomato varieties, a small cherry tomato will be ready to harvest well before a regular tomato or a giant beefsteak style tomato. If you grow a variety of types you should be able to cover the season during harvest. You can also plant a late crop of tomatoes in December/January, that will mature later into autumn after the other tomatoes have finished their harvest.

If you are looking for a faster harvest, look for a grafted variety of Tomato or eggplant for example. The rootstock is much more vigorous that a tomato so it will grow faster and mature faster than a regular variety.

If preserving is something you want to grow vegetables for, consider how much you need at one time to preserve. Some things like berries and tomatoes can be frozen in order to collect enough to process but if you want to pickle gherkins for instance they need to be ready en masse within a few days. In this situation it is in your favour to plant a bigger number of plants at the same time.

 Successional planting does take a little planning and thought but you will reap the rewards all year long!