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August 25, 2013

Planting in August

Anyone who plants a vegetable garden wants to benefit by yielding as much as possible.

Those who plant large gardens often find themselves covered with dirt and sweat, questioning whether it’s really worth it. People with smaller gardens can feel the same way when they only get a small taste of something mouth-wateringly delicious. But with a little planning, succession planting can boost home-garden production.

Sometimes called multiple cropping, succession planting refers to methods used to increase and extend crop harvest. These methods, which are often used by small-scale commercial growers, maximize the use of garden space and effective planting and harvest timing.

There are several approaches. The method you can best use right now is also the one that I see most widely used in the North Country. It involves planting two or more crops in sequence.

For example, in many gardens, vegetables with intermediate maturing times that were planted early (beets, carrots, turnips, peas, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi) are now being, or have been, harvested. Once those harvests are completed, standard gardeners will leave that space unplanted. Succession gardeners will immediately plant a fast-growing crop, such as head or leaf lettuce, spinach, carrots, kale or radishes in that space.

Or they may transplant vegetable plants that have been growing in containers up to now into the garden. The crops most widely chosen for transplanting are Cole crops such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage, all crops that will not be damaged and whose quality may actually be improved by exposure to frost.

Knowledgeable gardeners choose early maturing varieties, which helps assure a bountiful late-season harvest. Catalog descriptions and seed-packet instructions should provide information such as days to harvest, spacing requirements and whether or not the variety is frost tolerant.

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