Make the most of your vegetable garden by practicing succession planting, a practice of the intensive gardening method that is sometimes called "double cropping." Succession planting is when you continuously plant and re-plant crops as space becomes available in your garden. Practicing this gardening method, it is possible to get as many as four crops in the same space during a single growing season
Plant a row or two of vegetables every 2 to 3 weeks. This works best with crops such as radishes, green beans, carrots, lettuce, spinach and other salad greens. A good rule of thumb is to plant a 6- to 10-foot-long row of each vegetable every 2 to 3 weeks. This will give you a continuous harvest of these vegetables. Plant radish and carrot seeds 1 inch apart and thin to 2 inches apart when seedlings emerge. Plant lettuce, spinach and other salad greens less than an inch apart and thin them about 3 to 4 inches apart when the seedlings are about 3 inches high. Space bean seeds about an inch apart. When their second set of leaves emerge, thin them so they stand about 4 to 6 inches apart.
Whenever you harvest a crop, immediately re-seed the area or plant small transplants. Do not allow any ground to sit bereft of plants. Use your garden trowel to prepare a small hole the approximate size of the transplants' root balls. Insert the roots of the transplant into the hole and firm the soil around its roots. Water transplants individually with a hand watering can and keep them moist until they are established and have resumed active growth.
Plant cool-weather crops that need a little shade from summer sun between rows of larger crops. Cool-weather-loving greens or lettuce that shrivel in hot summer sun will grow quite well shaded by larger, sun-loving crops such as tomatoes, peppers or beans.
Start seeds in individual 2-inch pots so you always have transplants available to pop into spots vacated by harvested crops. Choose brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, cooking greens or cabbage. When the hot-weather-loving crops are harvested the brassicas will take over the space and mature during cooler fall temperatures.
Start seeds of lettuce and other salad greens by filling 2-inch pots with regular indoor potting soil and sowing two to three seeds in each pot. Grow them in a cold frame or other protected location until you are ready to transplant them into a vacant space in your garden, which is the very essence of succession cropping. These plants take up very little room in the garden and are ideal to plant and fill in any open areas.