Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Successive Planting Keeps the Crops Coming Thick, Fast

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Successive Planting Keeps the Crops Coming Thick, Fast

Article excerpt

The last of the peas have been picked, the broccoli is winding down. The gardener is content with a successful harvest - right? Wrong. Surely something must go in to take the place of the spent crops.

Successive, or overlapped, planting is an ancient tradition. The garden is a place of constant change: Summer crops usually are planted by early June, but even after the garden is "in," the opportunities for adding and altering continue.

The early peas make way for something else; the zucchini that succumbs to borers in mid-July is replaced; even an early-season determinate tomato plant can be pulled after its duty is done to make space for another fast-maturing crop.

Some gardeners view the process of sowing, planting and harvesting in distinct and separate stages - the spring garden, the summer garden, the fall garden. Others see the season from March through October as seamless and constantly fluctuating. That is the key to successive planting: A new crop goes in before the old one is finished.

Well-executed successive planting means that from the first harvest (as early as May for peas and spinach) until the very last (chards and carrots as late as Thanksgiving), a single patch of ground always is producing something.

There are a few tricks to get the most out of the practice of overlapping crops. Think about the seasonal requirements of the replacements: It might seem a good idea to sow spinach under the broccoli in June, for example, except that spinach is not a plant to mature in high summer.

Better to sow it in late August to mature in the cool of October, when it will produce a bumper crop. A variety such as beans, maturing and finishing up in August or early September, would be an excellent shelter crop for young spinach. Thus, overlapping spinach on a summer bean crop would be the way to go.

It helps to know when varieties now in the ground will mature. …

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