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Learning the keys to succession planting to get several crops and season-long harvests.

Growing different types of lettuces along with radishes, then harvesting them and planting new crops in the same place ensures a season-long harvest of a larger variety of veggies.
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Growing different types of lettuces along with radishes, then harvesting them and planting new crops in the same place ensures a season-long harvest of a larger variety of veggies.

Succession planting is a great gardening technique that requires less space than planting a full, in-ground vegetable garden. Plus, this method yields multiple crops each season and cuts down on weeds.

As with most gardening, succession planting does require some planning. And now is the time to do it!

Early spring is the right time to map out each one of your garden beds and decide which veggies, herbs and flowers are going to be planted and when.

This time of year, it's best to begin with the cool season crops that thrive in cooler temperatures. Plant those first, let them grow, harvest them and eat them. Then, as the summer begins, plant the next round of warmer season crops.

After you plant those types of veggies and flowers that thrive better in warm temps and fuller sun, let them mature and harvest them. Then come back to your garden plot and plant another cool season crop that will mature for fall.

Here's a quick guide to give you some ideas for succession planting in one of your beds (you can change up the crops if you have more than one raised bed!):

In early spring (April and May), plant cool season crops like arugula, lettuces and radishes.

In early summer (June and July), plant warmer season crops like bush beans.

In early fall (August) plant spinach for a late season crop.

In just one raised bed, you would have three different crops of various veggies to enjoy.

More on succession planting from Charlie Nardozzi and VPR.

Another method to try utilizes all available soil in your garden and raised bed. For instance, if you're growing peas early in the season, put some lettuce and radishes around those peas.

Then, when they're done growing towards the end of June or so, put in a crop of cucumbers, especially a late-season bush variety. Use a trellis for the cukes to climb on, too.

When they start fading come September, put in some kale, or even late carrots depending on where you are. And that crop would be ready to harvest in fall.

Then, garlic and onions would be ready in July or early August, and you could put in a fall crop of broccoli or cauliflower.

You'll get a nice crop of brassicas into the fall where they get to grow longer and they taste even better.

There is still yet another method to try that maximizes garden space. One called intercropping, where you take advantage of the size of the plants you choose.

For example, tomatoes grow fairly big and bushy and need to be spaced three to four feet apart. But before they get big, there is unused garden real estate between each plant. Use that space to plant all kinds of lettuces and greens.

Harvest those greens as they grow, as once those tomatoes get big enough, they'll eventually shade out the smaller greens.

Planting this way is also a great technique to help keep pests away, too. Just utilize that garden space in between bigger veggies and add some strongly-scented flowers in between.

Q: Every year my tomatoes get blight. I was out of ideas, then I heard of hay bales. Is this fake news or can one really grow tomatoes in hay bales? - Kevin, in Panton

A: It is not fake news and if you have problems with blight, this is a really good way to grow tomatoes!

First, condition a hay bale or a straw bale by watering it every day for two weeks.

Then every other day, put some organic or chemical fertilizer on the hay or straw bale.

After two weeks, get a little bit of potting soil and add that to the top of the bale, then stick in your tomato transplants. Add a tomato cage around the plant or add a trellis and let the tomatoes grow.

Because there is not much soil, there will be little to no blight diseases on the leaves. And because the tomato plants are elevated up off the ground, browsing critters will also be less of an issue.

So go ahead and create a whole hay bale garden just for your tomatoes and see how it goes!

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a messageor get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.

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Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.