by Charlene Burgi
| Spring daffodils
A few weeks ago, the tête-à-tête daffodils popped up in my front yard to display their dwarf, yellow, trumpet-like blooms. Their appearance delighted the eye after a long dreary winter. Not far behind their nodding flowers came more spikes of more daffodils of various colors yet-to-come. I have planted these harbingers of spring over the course of many years, knowing the different types of daffodils will bloom at various times in the spring, prolonging the bright cheeriness. The appearance of the tête-à-têtes foretold that the show was just beginning.
Extending the season via succession planting isn’t limited to daffodils. Spring is in the air and many of us are itching to get into the vegetable garden with the thought of fresh, home-grown produce. Often we plant out the entire area at once, leaving little room for additional plants. This can result in an overwhelming crop coming in all at one time. Then these plants exhaust their production and the fruiting stops.
Careful planning can eliminate this feast or famine cycle. Succession planting, such as planting in monthly intervals, helps provide a manageable harvest of just the right amount of veggies for your family—thereby eliminating the need to set up a fruit and vegetable stand on the front sidewalk.
Some crops are better suited to succession planting than others. For example, beets, corn, green beans, peas, radishes, carrots and lettuce are a few vegetables that do well by monthly planting. Note that if you plant your seeds by the phases of the moon, underground crops such as beets and carrots will do better if planted during the waning phase before the new moon. This can require additional thought and planning. Sometimes it helps to set up a chart or calendar as a reminder of what needs to go into the ground when.
Strawberries are another consideration in regard to succession planting. Strawberries are perennials and don't need to be torn out once they have finished fruiting. The June-bearing strawberry provides fruit in abundance for three weeks during—you guessed it—June. They are a feast or famine crop but just the thing if you make jams or preserves. However, some strawberries are everbearing (otherwise known as day-neutral) and bear fruit from July through fall. Their crop production is spaced out over the months and works well for an ongoing edible harvest. Planting both types of strawberries extends the harvest time a month. Strawberries thrive on an acidic fertilizer.
Plan ahead and your garden will be a source of joy and highly prized for its balance.