One common thing backyard gardeners may come across is the feast and famine of harvests. One minute you have zucchini coming out of your ears and the next minute you're lucky if you can grab a handful of bitter tasting lettuce leaves. I thought I'd demonstrate how we do it with our monthly 4 bed rotation.
The key to a good succession of produce is really to be constantly planting things. If you want to harvest something every week, you need to be planting every week. This process can become overwhelming, especially if you're not a planner and just throw things in when you have the space. We've simplified this by planting what we need for the month and dedicating a bed for each month of planting.
Last year I recorded a podcast with tips on succession planting, aka always having something to harvest from the veggie patch and I've put together an overview video of how we do it here in our garden.
Now these tips are for us here in the subtropics, we are lucky enough to have a climate that allows us to be able to grow all year (albeit summer is challenging). This process obviously won't work if your ground is frozen over the winter, but in most of Australia there is usually something that can go in the ground year round (even if the options are limited).
How many gardens do you need for succession planting
We have successfully done this with 4 x 2mx1m beds, I find 5-6 better and also allows you to grow things that take a little longer like garlic, onions and sweet potatoes. If you are lacking on space but have a couple of larger beds you can split them in half as well or even use large pots and containers.
How we do it
With our 4 beds, each month we choose one bed to plant out. We plant a diverse mix of plants which also helps with pest control. By the time we have our beds filled up, the first bed we planted out will be starting to finish up and then we start the process again.
Plants we choose for our succession
For our rotation we choose annual vegetables that are quick to grow, aiming for harvest within 90 days (3 months). This means being selective with our varieties. We make sure we choose fast growing broccoli and cauliflowers, and also carrots. In these beds we do our salad greens, stir fry greens, beans, cucumbers, radish, zucchini, corn, carrots and beetroot etc. I have setup plans for each month that Dirt Lovers can access inside the portal. An example of a Summer plan would include 16 corn, 12 beans, 1 zucchini, 2 cucumbers, 16 spring onions, 12 lettuce.
What we don't include in our succession beds
Whilst we do some cherry tomatoes or some determinate varieties in our succession beds (which will often carry on a little longer than the 4 bed rotation), our main supply of canning/sauce tomatoes gets its own space. As does garlic, onions, eggplant, strawberries, capsicums and other biennial/perennial veggies. Also any plants we are growing for our seed shop we do those in additional beds so we're not waiting for those to finish up.
If things aren't finished growing
If things aren't finished when we expect them to be, we simply plant around them. The beauty of a no dig garden system is we can essentially top up our patch and plant around existing plants allowing them to keep growing to maturity whilst also keeping our succession going.
Key to successful succession planting
The main thing that helps is always propagating a lot of seeds, we make sure that we are always sowing seeds. It may feel at times we go a little overboard but it is incredibly helpful to always have something to plant in spots that appear.
In the video below we demonstrate what 4 months of succession looks like in our garden. Check it out below.
If you'd like more guidance on this process you can access all my plans inside the dirt lovers membership along with loads of other growing tips.