Your Spring Garden

This is the first in a series of three blog posts about succession planting.

Part 1 will focus on your spring garden and what to plant. Part 2 will focus on your summer garden and Part 3 the fall... You can get a lot of food out of a small space and we're here to help you maximize your yield... and your joy.

It’s true, gardening is a lot of fun. And it’s also true that optimizing your veggie garden to grow the most food is incredibly rewarding. With careful planning, succession planting in your garden can help you to maximize both your rewards and your fun!

Why Succession Planting?

Have you ever started your garden in the spring, gotten stuff really going, harvested food, and then realized that it feels too late in the year to plant anything else in the garden? Planning for successful succession planting means that you’ll know what’s going in your garden next and will also help you maximize harvests in your space. Succession gardens work especially well for those with smaller spaces and raised beds.

Also, succession planting can also mean extending the harvest of some of your favorite veggies by staggering your planting. Take spinach for example. In the garden plan below, two square feet of garden space are set aside to grow this salad favorite. If you plant both squares at once you’ll have a big harvest once all the plants reach maturity. And that’s great! But, if you plant one square one week and the second square the next you’ll have two smaller harvests over a longer period of time. 


Your Spring Garden

One of the best ways to prepare for solid succession gardening is starting early. There are quite a few cool weather crops that are happy going in the ground several weeks before the last frost date. These include peas, carrots, beets, green onions, radishes, and many favorite salad greens. Here in Chicago, many of these can easily be planted mid-march and the others can be planted in late March or early April. Check your specific seed and transplant varieties for more information.

What makes succession planting so cool, is that after the food above is harvested you get to plant again! Take a look at the sample garden plan above. If planted early in the year each of those plants will be ready for harvest in May and the plants can be pulled by the end of May or very early in June, making way for warm weather crops. And remember, many of these plants can be done with a staggered planting to extend your harvest.

The exceptions to the above are carrots, kale, and swiss chard. Both kale and swiss chard will continue to produce food throughout the warm months. Simply remove the most mature outer leaves when you want a harvest and leave the rest to grow for next time. Carrots also perform well most of the growing season. Use a succession planting method on your carrots by planting a portion of your space every two to three weeks for a near consistent harvest come summer.