You might be thinking: a transition into a summer garden? Is there a difference between a spring and summer garden? And the answer is: absolutely!
Although, if you’re someone who just plants one garden for the whole season, that’s common practice, too (especially when you’re just getting started with your gardening journey).
However, having multiple crops throughout the spring and then different crops in the summer is a great way to maximize your yield in a given growing year. “Succession planting”, which means planting one crop right after another is finished, is especially useful for those who have smaller growing spaces. The transition from season to season also helps when growing temperature-specific vegetables like cold-loving spinach or heat-loving eggplant.
If you’re looking for an additional challenge, or to step up your gardening game, succession planting is definitely for you. And if you’re thinking of taking on this new step to gardening, here are a few things to note...
1. Be mindful of your area’s temperature and your veggies’ needs
Succession planting is only as successful as its well-thought-out plan, and the first step is to know your growing zone and your area’s temperature variants. Knowing your weather patterns will help you understand your plants’ needs. For example, you'll know how long your arugula can grow before “bolting” or going to seed, and to avoid planting cucumbers and squash too soon because the soil temperature isn’t quite warm enough. Seed packets are also full of information, including growing time. This will give you a rough idea of how long your seed will take from beginning to harvest so that you’ll know when to start your next seeds to transplant when the previous plant is finished.
2. Relay plant and stagger plant
Since your spring garden will be mostly filled with lettuces and other greens, you'll want to “stagger plant” or plant a few every week or every other week so that you’re not left with more salad than you can eat at once. Relay planting is the act of planting a crop before another is finished, which is another great space-conserver but takes some planning. Say you’ve planted your spring carrots (this crop takes much longer to grow than your salad), but you’re ready to plant your tomatoes, and your carrots aren’t finished yet. No problem! Plant your tomatoes in with your carrots anyway. Your carrots will finish up right as your tomato is ready to jump into action and take up the space (and nutrients) the carrots left behind.
3. Companion plant
If you’re attempting succession planting or relay cropping, it’s important to take note of companion planting. The carrot and tomato example is a companion plant, as these two do not compete for nutrients and in fact improve each other’s flavours. Some plants do not coexist well, whereas others benefit each other while growing, so it’s important to take note of companions when planting things close by. The same goes for a succession: you won’t want to plant something from the same family from one succession to the next. An example of this would be planting kale in the spot where you’ve harvested your spring cabbage. You’ll want to add in a crop that will provide this section of your garden with different nutrients (unless you’re amending your bed with compost in between seasons), but also to deter pests and diseases that enjoy vegetables from the same family.
4. Plant what you eat and plan what you’ll eat
More plants means more food! Where this doesn’t sound like a bad problem to have, it can feel overwhelming to have an abundance of food without the time to properly enjoy it. As tempting as it can be to plant every vegetable under the sun, make sure that you and your family enjoy those foods, and that you all have a plan of how to eat it immediately or how to preserve it for later. Carve out the time to properly process your foods through fermentation, canning, jarring, dehydrating or freezing, and you’ll be able to enjoy your harvests long after gardening season is done.Pexels/Zen Chung
BEST SPRING CROPS TO PLANT
- Brussels Sprouts
- Bok Choy
- Spring onions (short season)
- Onions (long season)
BEST SUMMER CROPS TO PLANT
- Summer squash (zucchini, crookneck, etc.)
- Winter squash (butternut, spaghetti, acorn, etc.)
Transitioning your garden from spring to summer has many benefits but some main takeaways are that your veggies will grow better because you’re not working against them or their needs, and that you’ll get more yield out of the same space. With proper planning, you’ll be able to enjoy the same garden plot but with the benefit of so much more food.