Not all plants occupy the soil for the entire growing season.  Take advantage of that fact when planning your garden to maximize your harvest. There are two methods of succession planting.  Either stagger planting times for a single crop or plant a different crop after one is harvested.

Some plants like chives and horseradish are perennial and will occupy their spot in the garden all year. Other plants are quick to mature and are only in the garden for the first part of the growing season.  Plants like early peas, radishes, and lettuce are ready to harvest before the growing season is fully underway.

You could get a second crop of lettuce out of the garden before the heat of high summer sets in by planting your second crop near a slower growing plant like eggplant or squash that will be bushed out when your second crop of lettuce is getting ready for harvest.  This will give the tender lettuce some much appreciated shade from the summer sun, and will help to prevent it from bolting.  Once the lettuce is done, the space can be planted with a late season crop like carrots to be harvested in late fall.

Radishes, which mature in about 28 days are so reliable you could tuck them in here or there around other slower growing vegetables.  by the time the main plant needs the space, you will  have harvested a whole bunch of radishes.

Succession planting also let’s you spread out the work of planting and harvesting over a longer period of time.  It’s much more enjoyable to harvest a handful of radishes or peas every other week or so, rather than having the whole crop ready to pull from the ground all at once.

You’re more likely to eat the fruits of your labor if you are not inundated with so much extra crop.  A good rule of thumb is to estimate how much you can reasonably eat ( or give away) for a two to three-week period.  Plant that much crop.  Then two weeks later, plant a second crop in another space.

Spring crops  are in the ground early and are done growing early in the season. They’re usually planted as soon as the ground can be worked. Plants in this category include: spinach, peas, radish, carrots,  rutabaga and turnips.

Summer crops  are in the ground for most of the growing season. They’re usually planted after the last frost.  Plants in this category include: cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, corn, zucchini, pumpkin and watermelon.

Fall crops  can be planted late in the growing season for a fall harvest. This could be a second planting of early, cool weather crops or plants that have a short time to maturity.  Plants in this category include: kale, lettuce, chinese cabbage, carrots, radish, rutabaga and turnips.

Of course, we have a chart!

Succession Planting Guide
plant
estimated
days to
harvest
time
between
plantings
notes
arugula
30
2 weeks
Plant as soon as the ground can be worked. Plant 4 weeks before first frost. Bolts quickly in warm temperatures. Seeds can be collected for next years crop.
Bush Beans
60
2 weeks
Plant first crop when the soil is at least 60 degrees. Plant last crop 8 weeks before first frost.
Lima Beans
60-90
all season
summer crop. Needs soil temp of at least 65 degrees.
beans, pole
60-80
all season
frequent picking encourages more production.
beets
55-70
3 weeks
can withstand cold weather short of a hard freeze. Avoid seeding during daytime temperatures of 80 degrees F
broccoli
60-70
2 weeks
develops best during cool seasons.Plant as soon as the ground can be worked from transplants, and then again in fall.
cabbage
75-85
3 weeks
Plant in spring from transplants & fall.  Hardened plants are tolerant of frosts.
carrots
50-75
3 weeks
Plant in spring as soon as the ground can be worked. & fall.  Direct seed.
cauliflower
40-65
2 weeks
Cool weather crop.  Plant in spring 2-3 weeks before last frost. & fall. Does best as a transplant.
collards
60-100
all season
cool-season crop. Can withstand frosts and light to medium freezes.
corn, sweet
70-100
2 weeks
Plant in late spring or early summer.  In the ground for the whole season.
cucumbers
60
4-5 weeks
summer crop.  Plant when the soil temperatures have reached 70 degrees F.  Does not tolerate cold.
edamame
70
all season
summer crop.  Wait until soil temps reach at least 60 degrees to plant.
eggplants
65-80
8 weeks
summer crop.  cold-sensitive. Requires a long warm season for best yields.
kale
40-50
2 weeks
spring & fall crop. Harvest very young leaves in salads or allow plants to mature and use as a cooked green.
kohlrabi
65-75
2 weeks
spring & fall crop.   Require cool temperatures and plenty of moisture and sunshine.
lettuce, head
45-55
2 weeks
does best in cooler weather. Plant early in spring and late in fall when temps are in the 50′s
lettuce, leaf
45-55
2 weeks
Plant in early spring & late fall. fairly hardy, cool-weather crop.
muskmelons
80-90
2 weeks
summer crop. Tender, heat-loving vegetable.
okra
70
all season
summer crop. plant seeds after the soil has warmed in the spring crop.
onions, dry
90-120
all season
 planted as soon as the round can be worked in the spring, from sets.
onions, green
85
2-3 weeks
 Can be grown from seed or as sets. Plant seed as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring.
peas
55-70
all season
Plant in spring & fall. frost-hardy, cool-season vegetable.Early plantings  produce larger yields than later plantings.
peppers
60-70
all season
Tender, warm-season vegetable. Plant after danger of frost.
potatoes
90
all season
cool season crop.  Plant when the soil is 60-70 degrees.
pumpkins
90-120
all season
warm-season vegetable. easily damaged by cold. Plant after all danger of frost.
radishes
25-30
2 weeks
best in cool weather.  Plant in early spring and late summer for a fall crop.  Fall radishes are more pungent.
spinach
48-60
2 weeks
Plant in spring & fall.  Very cold hardy.
squash, summer
45-60
4-8 weeks
cold tender.  Plant in early summer, then again in late summer.
squash, winter
90-120
all season
seeds are cold sensitive.  Plant in summer after danger of frost.
tomatoes
60-90
2 weeks
Plant in early summer from transplants after danger of frost.
turnips
35-40
2 weeks
best in cool weather.  Plant in early spring, late summer or early fall.

Some  gardeners plant the whole garden in the spring and are done with it until late summer or early fall when they harvest the crops.  But you can grow more food in less space by planning your planting according to the plants natural life cycles, and temperature requirements.

Using this method, The garden is more productive and more efficient.  There is always something going into the garden or coming out. Weren’t you looking for another excuse to putter in the garden anyway?