How to do succession planting

How to do succession planting

Seasoned gardeners know that a diverse mix of plants makes for a healthy and beautiful garden. Many believe that certain plant combinations have extraordinary (even mysterious) powers to help each other grow. Scientific study of the process, called companion planting, has confirmed that some combinations have real benefits unique to those pairings.

Companions help each other grow and use garden space efficiently. Tall plants, for example, provide shade for sun-sensitive shorter plants. Vines can cover the ground while tall stalks grow skywards, allowing two plants to occupy the same patch.

Some couplings also prevent pest problems. Plants can repel harmful organisms or lure the bad bugs away from more delicate species.

These combinations of plants do way better, together:

Roses and Garlic

How to do succession planting

Gardeners have been planting garlic with roses for eons since the bulbs can help to repel rose pests. Garlic chives are probably just as repellent, and their small purple or white flowers in late spring look great with rose flowers and foliage.

Marigolds and Melons

How to do succession planting

Certain marigold varieties control nematodes in the roots of melon without using chemical treatments.

Tomatoes and Cabbage

How to do succession planting

Tomatoes repel diamondback moth larvae, which can chew large holes in cabbage leaves.

Cucumbers and Nasturtiums

How to do succession planting

The nasturtium’s vining stems make them a great companion rambling among your growing cucumbers and squash plants, suggests Sally Jean Cunningham, master gardener and author of Great Garden Companions. Nasturtiums reputedly repel cucumber beetles, but they can also serve as a habitat for predatory insects like spiders and ground beetles.

Peppers and Pigweed

How to do succession planting

Leafminers preferred both pigweed (also called amaranthus) and ragweed to pepper plants in a study at the Coastal Plains Experiment Station in Tifton, Georgia. Just be careful to remove the flowers before the weeds set seed.

Cabbage and Dill

How to do succession planting

“Dill is a great companion for cabbage family plants, such as broccoli and brussels sprouts,” Cunningham says. The cabbages support the floppy dill, while the dill attracts the helpful wasps that control cabbage worms and other pests.

Corn and Beans

How to do succession planting

The beans attract beneficial insects that prey on corn pests such as leafhoppers, fall armyworms, and leaf beetles. The vines can also climb up the corn stalks.

Lettuce and Tall Flowers

How to do succession planting

Nicotiana (flowering tobacco) and cleome (spider flower) give lettuce the light shade it grows best in.

Radishes and Spinach

How to do succession planting

Planting radishes among your spinach will draw leafminers away from the healthy greens. The damage the leafminers do to radish leaves doesn’t prevent the radishes from growing nicely underground.

Potatoes and Sweet Alyssum

How to do succession planting

The sweet alyssum has tiny flowers that attract delicate beneficial insects , such as predatory wasps. Plant sweet alyssum alongside bushy crops like potatoes, or let it spread to form a living ground cover under arching plants like broccoli. Bonus: The alyssum’s sweet fragrance will scent your garden all summe longr.

Cauliflower and Dwarf Zinnias

How to do succession planting

The nectar from the dwarf zinnias lures ladybugs and other predators that help protect cauliflower.

Collards and Catnip

How to do succession planting

Studies have found that planting catnip alongside collards reduces flea-beetle damage on the collards. The fragrant plant may also help repel mosquitoes.

Strawberries and Love-In-A-Mist

How to do succession planting

Tall, blue-flowered love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) “looks wonderful planted in the center of a wide row of strawberries,” Cunningham says.

Encyclopedic entry. A growing season is the period of the year when crops and other plants grow successfully. The length of a growing season varies from place to place.

Biology, Geography, Physical Geography

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A growing season is the period of the year when crops and other plants grow successfully. The length of a growing season varies from place to place. Most crops need a growing season of at least 90 days.

In tropical regions, where it is warm year-round, the growing season can last the entire year. In some tropical places, however, the growing season is interrupted by a rainy season. During this time, it is too wet to grow crops. Coffee, which grows in tropical climates, has this type of varied growing season. In Colombia, coffee is harvested all year. In Indonesia, heavy rains often interrupt the coffee growing season.

In other tropical places, it is sometimes too dry for crops to grow. The tropical region of northern Africa, called the Sahel, experiences frequent periods of drought. The Sahel is a transition zone between the Sahara Desert in the north and the savanna in the south. Due to dramatic weather patterns, the prospect of a successful harvest in the Sahel is highly uncertain.

In temperate regions, which have warm summers and cold winters, the length of the growing season depends mostly on temperature. Some growing seasons last as long as eight months. Europe and most of the Americas enjoy long growing seasons like this. The farther away a place is from the Equator, the shorter the growing season. In regions near the poles, the growing season is sometimes less than two months. The U.S. state of Alaska has an average growing season of only 105 days.

Elevation, or the height above sea level, also affects the growing season. This is because higher elevations usually have colder temperatures. High in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the U.S. state of California, the growing season lasts only 50 days, but along the state’s southern coast, the growing season lasts 365 days.

There are two ways to determine the growing season. In temperate regions, the growing season is usually calculated by the average number of days between the last frost in spring and the first severe frost in autumn. The growing season can also be determined by the average number of days that the temperature rises high enough for a particular crop to sprout and grow. This measurement varies depending upon the crop. For rice to grow, the temperature must be at least 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). Wheat, however, will sprout at just 5 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit).

How to do succession planting

Photograph by Thomas J. Abercrombie

Alaska’s Growing Season
Alaska has a very short growing season, only 105 days, on average. However, the Alaskan growing season does not have dark nightsthe Arctic is tilted toward the sun and plants grow in almost 24 hours of sunlight. In a growing season months shorter than the rest of the country, Alaskas gardeners grow some of the largest produce75-pound cabbages, 100-pound kale and 1,000-pound pumpkins.

How to do succession planting

Succession planting, also known as successive planting, is a way to extend your harvest by staggering plantings of crops or planting varieties with staggered maturing dates. There are four methods of succession planting.

Same Vegetable, Staggered Plantings

Space out plantings of the same vegetable every two to four weeks. Many vegetables fade after producing their initial crop, setting a heavy yield initially, then smaller and smaller yields throughout the summer. Rather than planting your entire row of beans all at once and having feast or famine, you can plant part of the row at the beginning of the season and then plant more in about two to four weeks. A new crop will be continually coming in. As the first plants start to flag, you can replant that area with beans or use it for a different crop.

How to do succession planting

The Spruce / K. Dave

Different Vegetables in Succession

Some crops, such as peas, have short growing seasons and the space they were using can be replanted with a later season crop, like eggplant. The best vegetables for succession plantings include: arugula, basil, beans (pole), beets, broccoli raab, carrots, chicory, cilantro, corn salad (mache), dill, endive, green onions, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mizuna, mustard, bok choi, radish, rutabaga, spinach, swiss chard, tatsoi, and turnips.

How to do succession planting

The Spruce / K. Dave

Paired Vegetables in the Same Spot

Often you can seed the early season vegetable at the same time you are planting. Intercropping, or pairing up plants, is an excellent way to squeeze even more productivity from your vegetable garden.

How to do succession planting

The Spruce / K. Dave

Same Vegetable, Different Maturity Rates

An easy way to keep your harvest coming in is to choose more than one variety of a crop and make them early-, mid-, and late-season varieties. Sometimes the seed packet will be labeled as such, and sometimes you will just have to read the "days to maturity" number, but tomatoes, corn, summer squash, and several other vegetables can be staggered throughout the growing season this way. Vegetables to sow with different maturity dates include beans (pole), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac/celery, collards, corn, eggplant, kale, melon, peas, summer squash, and tomatoes.

How to do succession planting

Even in a small space, you can harvest vegetables all season long with some up-front planning. Succession planting is the practice of seeding crops at intervals of 7 to 21 days in order to maintain a consistent supply of harvestable produce throughout the season.

Succession planting also involves planting a new crop after harvesting the first crop. The second or third crop can be the same as the prior, or different.

Make a plan for fresh vegetables all summer long

In a small space, it’s best to stick to quick-growing crops like lettuce and radishes, or crops that can grow vertically on a trellis, like peas. Rather than planting all of the peas and radishes at once, calculate the amount that you’re likely to eat in a week.

For example, if you’re likely to eat 5 to 7 radishes each week, rather than planting all of the radishes at once, plant about 10 radish seeds one week, 10 the next week, 10 the next, and so-on. Since radishes are harvested after about 3 or 4 weeks, you can use that space for more radishes or another crop once you’ve harvested them. If you eat fewer radishes later in the summer when other things are available, stop seeding new radishes in June, and instead use that space to plant something else.

Succession planting is most important for determinate crops, which are crops that produce all of their fruit (or edible material) at once. Indeterminate tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, and peppers will continue to produce fruit off of the same plant, so you don’t need to worry about succession planting with these crops.

Similarly, you can typically harvest multiple times from herb plants and they will grow back. Check the seed packet label on your tomatoes to see if the variety you’ve chosen is determinate or indeterminate.

Succession planting resources and tips

Figure out the average number of frost-free days in your area

    is a good resource for this. From there, look at your seed packets to determine the number of days your seeds will require from planting until harvest.
  • For example: In Ramsey county, the last frost date is May 10 on average, and the first average frost date is October 1. That gives growers 144 days to plant. With that number in mind, check your seed packets to see how long each crop will take from seeding to harvest. That’s how you can make plans for each spot in your garden.

How often to re-seed

Johnny’s Seeds has a helpful table showing how often you should re-seed each vegetable to maintain a continuous harvest if you wish to keep harvesting the same crop each week.

  • The radishes you plant in the spring will likely be different varieties than the radishes you plant in mid-summer or fall (this could be said for most crops). Make sure to read seed catalog descriptions when selecting which varieties you plan to use throughout the season.
  • Heat tolerance is critical for varieties you’ll grow in the summer, especially for cool-season crops like lettuce and brassicas.
  • Some crops can be direct seeded, and others should be started indoors. Extension Educator and Horticulturist Mary Meyer wrote an article for last month’s newsletter about seed starting, and the right time to seed various crops.

Sample succession plantings

The options for succession planting are endless. Have fun experimenting with different succession plans, and make sure to maintain crop rotation in your plans.

How to do succession planting

A new crop is started where the harvest of another crop was completed; this is succession planting.

Succession planting means growing different crops in the same space one right after the other in the same season or planting the same crop in different parts of the garden in succession at different times. Succession planting results in a succession of harvests–a long continuous harvest season.

Two Examples of Succession Planting

  • A row of carrots is planted in early spring: after the carrots are harvested in early summer, the vacated row is re-planted with snap beans for harvest in early fall. The two crops are grown on the same ground,
  • A planting bed is divided into three sections: the first sowing of radishes is planted in the first section; in 10 days, the second section is planted with radishes; in another 10 days the third section is planted with radishes. Successive sowings of the same crop are made in different locations at 10-day intervals.

Succession planting allows for a continuous, uninterrupted harvest. Succession planting is sometimes called relay cropping.

How to do succession planting

Rows of crops can be planted in succession for a continuous harvest.

Succession Planting is Not Crop Rotation

Succession planting is different than rotation cropping. Rotation cropping is the practice of not planting the same crop in the same place for at least three successive years. Crop rotation ensures that the same plants or plants from the same family will not deplete the same soil nutrients year after year.

Whenever possible, do not plant successive crops of the same botanical family on the same ground. For example, root vegetables such as carrots or radishes should follow vegetables grown for their leaves or seeds, for example, lettuce or beans. In a small garden, this may be difficult. If you do grow the same vegetable in the same spot for two or three successive years, you must make extra efforts to keep the ground fertile (add plenty of aged compost between plantings) and remove immediately plants that become diseased.

There are no rules for succession planting. Any vegetable that is removed from the garden early enough in the season can be followed by any other crop which will have time to mature.

More Succession Planting Examples

  • Cool-season crops followed by warm-season crops: early beets and beet greens, early cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kohlrabi, lettuce, green onions, peas, radishes, spinach, and turnips can be planted early–these crops are cool-weather crops. These crops can be followed by warm-weather crops such as beans, eggplant, melons, peppers, tomatoes, or squash.
  • Warm-season crops followed by more warm-season crops: Bush beans, eggplant, melons, peppers, tomatoes, or squash can be followed by second plantings of the same crops. This is easily done in regions where summers are very long and winters are mild. If your growing season is 220 days or more, follow harvested warm-season crops with a second planting of warm-season crops.
  • Warm-season crops followed by cool-season crops. Warm-season crops such as bush beans or peppers can be followed by a mid or late-summer planting of cool-weather crops that will mature in autumn. Beets, Chinese cabbage, collards, corn salad, endive, kale, leeks, lettuce, mustard, and Swiss chard are cool-season crops that can follow warm-season crops for late autumn and winter harvest.

Intercropping–Planting Crops Side-by-Side–for Different

Another form of succession cropping is growing quick-to-harvest crops next to slow-to-harvest crops. This form of succession cropping is also called intercropping or interplanting. Intercropping is often used in small gardens with a limited amount of space. Intercropping works best when quick-maturing crops are planted between slower-maturing crops. Here are crops that fall into these categories:

  • Quick-to-harvest crops include radishes, leaf lettuce, green bunching onions, turnips, and mustard greens. These crops require 60 days or less from sowing to harvest.
  • Slow-to-harvest crops include tomatoes, corn, squash, cabbage, eggplant, and peppers. These crops require more than 60 days from sowing until harvest, often 90 days or more.

Catch Cropping

Catch cropping is a term used for filling a space in the garden where a plant has been harvested. One plant comes out, a second plant goes in. Catch cropping can be a form of succession planting; no part of the garden is left vacant during the growing season.

The number of succession crops that can be grown in the garden in a growing season depends upon the days to maturity for each crop and the number of days in the growing season. In short-season regions, it is more realistic to aim for two successions of crops. In long-season regions, a gardener may plant three or four successions from spring to autumn.

How to do succession planting

Harvested cool-weather leafy crops make way for the planting of warm-season fruiting crops, tomatoes and peppers.

Step-by-Step Succession Crop Planning

  1. Make a list of the crops you want to grow.
  2. Know the number of days in the growing season, the approximate number of days between the last expected frost in spring, and the first expected frost in fall. This is the growing season. Ask is the summer-long enough to grow the crop you have in mind? Is it long enough to grow a second crop in the same spot or a third crop?
  3. Know the number of days to harvest of each crop you plan to grow: the time in the garden for long-staying main crops and for quick-maturing early crops or late crops.
  4. Decide if the growing season will be extended in spring or autumn by the use of protection: cloches, floating row covers, plastic tunnels, or cold frames. Season-extension devices add days to your growing season.
  5. Make a map or chart of the growing space or planting beds for the beginning, middle, and end of the growing season: what spaces will be vacant when.
  6. Be flexible: soil and air temperatures, the weather, pests, diseases, and other unforeseen events may alter your plans.

To know the number of days to maturity of many vegetable varieties, look up each vegetable under its name in the Topics Index or check the How to Grow Archive for each plant.

How to do succession planting

You can’t run a business, regardless of its size, without talented people ready to move into key positions when the current occupants leave. Even the most successful employers can run off a cliff if they don’t have a solid succession plan in place.

What is succession planning?

Succession planning is a strategy for identifying and developing future leaders at your company — not just at the top but for major roles at all levels. It helps your business prepare for all contingencies by preparing high-potential workers for advancement.

Here are seven tips for kick-starting the succession planning process at your company.

1. Be proactive with a plan

Sometimes, you’ll know well in advance if a hard-to-replace team member is going to leave the company — a planned retirement is a good example. But other times, you’ll be caught off-guard by a sudden and potentially disorienting employee departure. That’s why you need a plan — now.

First, consider all the key roles on your team and answer these two questions:

  • What’s the day-to-day impact of X position on our company or department?
  • If the person currently in X position left, how would that affect our operations?

2. Pinpoint succession candidates

Once you have a handle on the ripple effect that the departure of certain employees might cause, choose team members who could potentially step into those positions.

  • If we were to hire for X position internally, which employees would be the strongest candidates for stepping into this role?
  • Would those candidates need training? And, if so, what type?

While the obvious successor to a role may be the person who is immediately next in line in the organizational chart, don’t discount other promising employees. Look for people who display the skills necessary to thrive in higher positions, regardless of their current title.

But don’t just assume you know how people on your team view their career goals. You may have certain team members in mind for senior management roles, but who’s to say they’ll even be interested in the idea once it’s presented to them? If you haven’t already, talk to these employees about how they view their professional future before making your succession choices.

3. Let them know

In private meetings, explain to each protege that they’re being singled out for positions of increasing importance. Establish an understanding that there are no guarantees, and the situation can change due to circumstances encountered by either the company or the succession candidates themselves.

4. Step up professional development efforts

Ideally, you have already been investing in the professional development of those you select as your succession choices. Now that preparation needs to be ramped up. Job rotation is a good way to help your candidates gain additional knowledge and experience. And connecting them with mentors can boost their abilities in the critical area of soft skills: The best leaders have strong communication skills, as well as polished interpersonal abilities, such as empathy and diplomacy.

5. Do a trial run of your succession plan

Don’t wait until there’s a crisis to test whether an employee has the right stuff to assume a more advanced role. Have a potential successor assume some responsibilities of a manager who’s taking a vacation. The employee will gain valuable experience and appreciate the opportunity to shine. And you can assess where that person might need some additional training and development.

6. Integrate your succession plan into your hiring strategy

Once you’ve identified employees as successors for critical roles in your organization, take note of any talent gaps they would leave behind if tapped. That can help you identify where to focus your future recruiting efforts.

7. Think about your own successor

When making a succession plan for your organization, keep in mind that your own role will someday require backfilling. Maybe you’ll decide to take advantage of a new opportunity, or you’ll put in your time and retire from the workforce. So it’s important to ask yourself, which employee could step into your shoes one day? And what can you do, starting now, to help that person prepare for the transition?

The members of your workforce aren’t fixed assets — and changes in your team’s lineup are inevitable. You may not always be able to predict a valued employee’s departure from the firm. But through effective succession planning, you can pave the way for the continuity so critical to your business’s future.

Succession planning is a process that ensures your company is prepared for the future. That way, when a key employee leaves, you already have someone in mind to fill their position (who, hopefully, has been groomed for this eventuality).

Succession planning keeps your business moving forward during the inevitable changes that come with running a business. And such plans serve as an excellent tool for retaining your strongest performers, who often tend to be the type of employees who need to know where their career is headed.

Just like you need to know where your business is headed.

Be prepared to make succession planning an ongoing effort. You can’t just sit in a meeting for two hours studying your org chart, then go back to regular business and forget about it.

The best succession plans are living, breathing things that get reviewed and refreshed on a regular basis.

It’s a process that, once you start, you need to continue. It’s something your company should revisit annually to make sure people are on track and to see if there have been any changes or movement within the organization.

Here’s your go-to guide on how to get started. Follow these tips:

1. Know who you are as a company

When it comes to succession planning, it’s important to recognize that it’s not a one-size-fits-all process. To get the most benefit from succession planning, your company’s top management must begin with a clear idea of who your company is in order to plan properly for its future.

Consider the examples of an electric company versus Tesla. The electric provider is a company that promises consistency and reliability to its customers, while Tesla focuses on hard-charging, best-in-class performance. There’s no right or wrong here – it just means different types of companies seek different types of leadership.

By understanding “who” your company is, you can better identify its potential new leaders.

2. Look at your entire organization

The next step is to assess your current workforce to identify key positions and key employees, recognizing that sometimes key employees are not in upper leadership but in support positions.

Yes, you need succession plans in place for the C-suite, but what about your shop foreman who never met a problem he couldn’t solve? Or the customer service rep that every client loves and asks for by name?

The key to a successful succession plan is that you take a look at all of your employees and make sure you haven’t missed any important person or position.

3. Determine your succession planning strategy

There are many ways you can go about succession planning. The best succession plan is the one that fits your organization. To determine what will work best for your business, consider these questions:

  • Do you want a complete succession plan that includes every position and employee in your organization? Or, do you want a succession plan that covers only upper management and other important leadership positions?
  • Will identifying and grooming successors be incorporated into your managers’ performance reviews?
  • Does your company have particular vulnerabilities, such as a large percentage of retiring employees in a particular division?
  • What’s your ultimate goal? What outcome are you hoping for?

Ultimately, any succession plan needs to focus on what you can do to proactively preserve the wealth of institutional knowledge that drives your company’s productivity.

4. Identify your rock stars

Once you’ve identified key positions, you need to find two to three employees who would make good successors for each of those critical roles. This requires you to look at employee performance objectively, and to take personal attachments out of it.

Often, employees who are the most extroverted are the ones who get considered for promotion. But sometimes your strongest performers aren’t the most visible. That’s why you need to carefully consider every individual for both skills and emotional intelligence.

Your highest-potential employees will be lifelong learners who are both self-aware and socially aware. They’ll also be great problem-solvers, adaptable and able to take on more responsibility. You’ll want to avoid promoting people who tend to get involved in office drama, resist change and spread negativity.

5. Tackle tough decisions and discussions

You also need to have conversations with your employees to find out what their career goals are, where they see themselves in the future, and what development they (and you) feel they need in order to get there.

Be prepared to find that some employees you consider to be high potential for advancement aren’t interested. That’s okay. You need solid performers at every level of the organization.

Done right, succession planning can be a powerful recruitment tool, helping your organization improve retention and company culture. For the benefits to occur, though, it’s important to communicate the hows and whys behind who has been tapped to move up.

Succession planning won’t just help you build a future for employees you consider to be promotable; it will also expose the employees who aren’t promotable, at least at this time.

For those who are not slated to move up, you need to be prepared to talk through the tough decisions you’ve made – and have what may be difficult discussions with some of your employees.

6. Understand that growth doesn’t have to be upward

Your employees are the backbone of your company, especially the ones who do a good, solid job, day in and day out. But some of these employees may not have the potential to move up – either because they’re already doing the jobs they’re best suited for, or simply because they’re not interested in rising through the ranks.

That’s where your definition of growth needs to be expanded to include more than just upward mobility. Employees can also grow and develop laterally, positioning them to continuously improve at their current jobs and even find new meaning in them.

To keep your “solid Sams” happy, make sure they feel valued. These employees need to know that, just because they won’t be moving up in the organization, it doesn’t mean they can’t still become the best they can be at their current job.

Let them know that you will continue to help them develop so they can stay fresh in their positions. To feed their need for recognition, you may need to expand their responsibilities to include training less-experienced employees or encourage them to speak at industry conferences. The possibilities are endless when it comes to personal development.

The most important thing is to make sure they feel that, even though they’re not slated for the C-suite, their contributions are essential to the success of your organization.

Still not sure how to get started with your company’s succession planning? Get more great tips by downloading our free e-magazine: The Insperity guide to succession planning.

How to do succession planting

If you’ve harvested one vegetable (example, radishes), you’ll want to plant a new crop in that space! The Successive Gardening Chart lists your last planting dates for second-season (or third-season) crops. To calculate the best time to plant your next vegetable crop, look at the first expected frost dates in the chart and choose the date that comes closest.

If you do not know your frost dates, see our handy frost date calculator!

In successive gardening, the idea is that you plant one crop after another to increase your harvest. If some crops have finished up, you’ll want to use that garden space for a second crop!

  • In many cases, it’s those early spring cool-season vegetables (radishes, peas, lettuce) that make room for new crops.
  • Warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers are long-lasting and keep bearing fruit.
  • Still others such as Brussels sprouts stay in the ground as they taste best after a first frost.Ideally, you plan ahead with a planting schedule so you know how long different vegetables take to reach maturity.

You can also visit our Best Dates for Planting Calendar which now includes both first spring AND last fall planting dates by zip code.