How to - Techniques

Extending your harvest

Karen York
Photography by
Emilie Simpson

Make the most out of your edible garden when space is tight and the growing season is short.


Intermediate: Succession planting

This technique not only saves you from the “feast or famine” syndrome but also reduces the risk of crop failure. There are several variations of succession planting:

1 One variety of vegetable planted successively
Extend the harvest by staggering plantings of the same variety so the plants reach maturity at successive times. For instance, sowing seeds or planting seedlings of lettuce and beans every two weeks.

One vegetable, different varieties
Plant the same vegetable using varieties with different maturity rates: tomatoes that mature in 65 days along with tomatoes that mature in 80 days, for example. Other good candidates are broccoli, carrots, kale, cabbage, squash and melon.

3 Different vegetables planted successively
Plant one crop as soon as another is finished, using the same spot. Early maturing, cool-season crops, such as lettuce, spinach and peas,can be replaced by heat-loving eggplants, squash and peppers, followed in turn by planting garlic and kale.

For healthy plants, don’t forget to rotate crops from year to year, i.e., grow plants from a different family in the same spot.

Halifax-based veggie maven Niki Jabbour offers several tips for successful succession planting: Start more seedlings so you have a good supply over the growing season; turn over plantings as soon as you have reaped the main harvest, don’t wait for the last gasp; and add compost to the soil between plantings to replenish nutrients. For detailed planting plans, check out her bookThe Year-Round Vegetable Gardener.

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