Successional planting, according to Penn State Cooperative Extension, is a method of extending the planting season by planting plants suitable for different seasons in the same area. This is a useful method for saving space and ensuring you have a continuous supply of vegetables throughout the year.
A major part of successional planting is having a good garden plan. Planning considers the size of the garden, what vegetables your family likes and dislikes, how much food the vegetables will yield, and how the vegetables should succeed each other; for example, peas, to cucumber, to radishes.
The garden plan should represent the three potential growing seasons of the year; spring, which includes cool-season vegetables; summer, which features warm-season vegetables; and autumn, which are cool-season vegetables. In the West, cold-season vegetables do well but, according to Oregon State University, plants in the East, past the mountains, may require a cold frame and protection from cold rain.
Cool- and Warm-Season Vegetables
According to the Penn State University Extension, cool-season vegetables include roots, salad greens, spinach, peas, and celery and cabbages. Warm-season vegetables include tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, eggplants, beans, squash, melons, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and corn. In spring, the cool-season plants are sown, followed by the warm season, with the cool season plants repeated again in the fall.
Succession gardens require placement in a sunny area, in soil that is loamy and drains well. Raised garden beds, where the soil can be changed yearly and the pH easily controlled, is the best environment for successional gardening. Soil needs regular fertilization and testing using a pH test to ensure the nutrient level is not depleted in the soil.
Perennial plants such as asparagus and rhubarb require planting at the edge of the garden so soil preparation for new plants do not disturb the seeds. Choosing quickly maturing plants ensures a steady, bountiful crop throughout the year. Fast- and slow-growing plants sown together, and large plants with small plants, utilizes the full extent of the gardening space.