Skip to main content

Succession Planting

hands planting seeds in garden

Succession planting allows you to maximize yield through strategic planting. Gardeners may plant early in the season with cool-season crops and as those crops are harvested, replace them with warm-season crops and return to cool-season crops again in the fall, so that the garden is continually in production. Another option involves planting smaller amounts of one crop, such as beans, every few weeks so that the harvest continues throughout the season. Alternatively, a gardener could plant different varieties of the same crop with different maturity dates, so each variety would ripen at staggered times throughout the season.

Experienced gardeners may mix strategies from each of these options to maximize harvest with a variety of crops depending on their goals for the production season. An example would be planting early crops and replacing them as they are harvested, but also choosing to stagger plantings of a crop or choosing to plant both early and late varieties of a crop.

Benefits of Succession Planting

Planting throughout the entire growing season maximizes the yield of a garden space while allowing production of both cool- and warm-season crops. Planning is essential to maintain a continuous supply of fresh vegetables; lay out the year’s schedule and map the garden, if necessary. Adjust the plan next year if you would like to try something different. Some basic principles to follow:

  • Cool-season crops include beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, greens, kale, lettuce (check variety), peas, radishes, spinach, Irish potatoes and turnips. Some of these, such as many varieties of lettuce as peas, cannot tolerate heat. Most are “one and done” crops, meaning that the entire plant is removed at harvest, such as cabbage, carrots and beets. Those, such as peas, that continue to produce will do so for a short period of a few weeks.
  • Warm season crops include beans, cantaloupe, corn, eggplant, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and watermelon. These can be planted after the last expected frost date for your area.
  • When cool-season crops are harvested, plant warm-season crops; when warm-season crops are harvested, plant cool-season crops, if you desire to do so. (The exception to this is a short maturing crop, like radishes, which can mature in as little as 25 days, so you may get multiple crops in the cool season.)
  • If you are planting the same crop with a staggered harvest date, choose early, mid- and late maturing varieties of the same crop and plant at the same time. This works well with vegetables such as sweet corn, beans, tomatoes and cabbage.
  • If you prefer to plant smaller amounts of the same vegetable varieties, stagger plantings seven to 14 days apart to spread the harvest out. As each set of plants finish production, a new set will start producing. This works well for crops such as cabbage, lettuce, onions, radishes and spinach
  • Variety is important; once temperature warms, some varieties cannot handle the heat of summer, while others are tolerant. Gardeners may desire to use space for a warm-season crop, such as summer squash, instead or use a heat-tolerant spinach, for instance.

Table 1. Planting Calendar for Garden and Open-Field Vegetable Crops in West Virginia from WV Garden Calendar


Crop

Days to Harvest

Months to Plant Crop

Arugula

20-40

April, May, June, July, August, September

Basil

60-70

May, June, July

Beans (snap)

55-75

May, June, July, August

Beets

45-55

April, May, June, July, August, September

Broccoli

65-85

April, May, June, July

Brussels Sprouts

90-120

June, July

Cabbage (green)

65-95

April, May, June, July

Carrots

65-85

April, May, June, July, August

Cantaloupe

75-90

May, June, July

Cauliflower

75-85

May, June, July

Collards

65-75

March, April, May, June, July, August, September

Cucumbers

55-65

May, June, July

Fennel

50-80

May, June, July

Kale

50-60

March, April, September, October

Kohlrabi

45-60

April, May, June, July, August

Leeks

85-120

March, April, May, June, July

Lettuce

35-65

April, May, June, July, August, September, October

Okra

50-65

May, June

Onions (green)

55-65

March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October

Onions (bulb)

80-100

April, May

Parsnips

100-120

March, April

Peas

60-70

February, March, April

Peppers

65-75

May, June, July

Potatoes (Irish)

75-85

March, April, May, June

Pumpkins

90-100

June, July

Radishes

25-35

March, April, May, August, September, October

Spinach

45-60

January, February, March, April, May, August, September, October

Squash (summer)

45-60

May, June, July, August

Squash (winter)

50-80

June, July

Sweet Corn

75-85

May, June, July

Sweet Potato

90-120

June

Swiss Chard

40-60

April, May, June, July, August, September, October

Tomatoes

70-85

May, June, July

Turnips

30-45

March, April, May, June, July, August, September

Watermelon

75-95

May, June

If you aren’t interested in preserving your produce, succession planting can help continue the harvest for a longer period throughout the season. For those interested in learning more about canning, WVU Extension has an extensive library of canning videos and publications available here.

Determining the Amount to Plant Per Person

The quantity to plant will depend upon the size of your family, whether you intend to preserve any of it and your family’s personal taste preferences. Planning is important. A few well-tended plants in a raised bed will out-produce an entire garden that is abandoned in a drought, so only take on what you can manage and choose vegetables you enjoy. Some produce, such as potatoes and winter squash, will do well in a cool, dry environment for several months. Others can easily be frozen, like corn, beans, Brussels sprouts and peas, or canned, such as tomatoes, pumpkin, cucumbers and beets. Many vegetables have multiple options for long term storage or can be cooked in your favorite soup, sauce or other recipe as another option, which can help save on your winter grocery budget and increase your family’s vegetable consumption.

Table 2. Expected Yield and Amount to Plant Per Person

Crop

Average Expected Amount Per 10-feet Planted

Estimated Amount to Plant Per Person

Asparagus

3 pounds

10 to 15 plants

Beans (snap)

12 pounds

15 to 16 feet

Beets

15 pounds

5 to 10 feet

Broccoli

10 pounds

3 to 5 plants

Brussels Sprouts

7.5 pounds

2 to 5 plants

Cabbage

15 pounds

3 to 4 plants

Cantaloupe

10 fruit

3 to 5 hills

Carrots

10 pounds

5 to 10 feet

Cauliflower

10 pounds

3 to 5 plants

Corn (sweet)

1 dozen

10 to 15 feet

Cucumbers

12 pounds

1 to 2 hills

Greens

10 pounds

5 to 10 feet

Lettuce (head)

10 head

10 feet

Lettuce (leaf)

5 pounds

10 feet

Onions

10 pounds

3 to 5 feet

Peas

4 pounds

10 to 20 feet

Peppers

6 pounds

3 to 5 plants

Potatoes (Irish)

10 pounds

50 to 100 feet

Potatoes (sweet)

10 pounds

5 to 10 plants

Pumpkins

10 pounds

1 to 2 hills

Radishes

10 bunches

3 to 5 feet

Spinach

4 to 5 pounds

5 to 10 feet

Squash (summer)

15 pounds

2 to 3 hills

Squash (winter)

10 pounds

1 to 3 hills

Turnips

5 to 10 pounds

5 to 10 feet

Watermelon

4 fruit

2 to 4 hills


Jodi Richmond, WVU Extension Service Agent – Mercer County

References

Planting Times determined from WVU Extension Garden Calendar (2020) WVU Extension Service

Days to Maturity from 2015 Vegetable Production Guide (2015). Vegetable Varieties Recommended for West Virginia. Dr. Lewis Jett, WVU Extension Commercial Horticulture Specialist

Vegetable Yields and Planting Time Chart adapted from Kansas State University Agriculture Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service Vegetable Garden Planting Guide (1992) Charles Marr, Extension Specialist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello!