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Continual Harvest: Succession Planting in the Midwest

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Gardeners in the Midwest are just now pulling the cool season crops, such as lettuces, radishes, and spinach, before they bolt. Soon enough you'll be giving away fresh produce. You'll have tomatoes coming out your ears and so much zucchini you can't give it away! 

It doesn't have to be that overwhelming -- with a little planning, you could be harvesting a variety of veggies for nearly seven months of the year.  Succession planting is about making the most out of a small space and having a constant harvest. 

For a better understanding of succession planting, we spoke with "Farmer John" Fendley of Sustainable Seed Company., a California-based heirloom seed company with one of the largest selections of heirloom seeds in the country, they boast more than 1,600 different varieties of veggies, herbs, and flowers.

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"Knowing what and when you'll harvest is part of the overall plan. Is it a crop you can plant three or four times over the course of the season (lettuces, carrots, radishes), a one-time harvest (broccoli or cauliflower), or a longer harvest (squash or tomatoes)? If you can reseed again before danger of hard frost, you want to be reseeding another row when that crop reaches maturity."

Fendley says the key is replanting. "It's so simple but many gardeners don't do it. For example, every 10 to 14 days you can seed radishes, plant a few seeds at a time, not the whole packet, and you'll have crisp radishes continually from spring to late fall instead of leaving them in the ground to get tough and woody.

Good Candidates for Reseeding:

Leafy greens like lettuces, spinach, and kale in the spring to early summer, then again in fall after the hot weather is through

Carrots, beets, and beans every few weeks throughout the entire season

Summer squash, tomatoes, and peas will produce a continual harvest if picked often.

Winter squash, broccoli, and cabbage are one-time harvests, so choose varieties that are short-, mid- and long-maturing

Finally, Fendley says don't forget to interplant crops. When your last row of lettuce is harvested in late spring, use that space for another crop, such as onions. That way the soil is continually being improved and you make the most of your limited space. Plus, you get the diversity in your garden that encourages native insects and discourages pests.

Visit Sustainable Seed Company's website for more ideas on what vegetables to grow for a continual harvest.

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