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May - What is Succession Planting?

Updated: Jul 3, 2022

Years ago, people grew vegetables in order to survive throughout the winter months. In recent years in Canada, with our vegetables readily available in stores, the need to plant vegetables in our gardens for year-round use has declined. However, today, with the dramatic rise in food prices many gardeners are becoming interested in succession planting.

Living in a West Coast climate with milder temperatures and lots of rain in British Columbia, enables us to grow more vegetables in spring and into the fall and winter season. In the shoulder season of March, April and May, vegetables like lettuce, mustards, radishes, arugula, spinach, asparagus, rhubarb, peas, beans and potatoes are planted and start to grow but need protection from the wind and rain to survive.

The real growing season occurs in our gardens in June, July and August when we have the most sunlight and consistent warmer temperatures. It is within this ninety day period starting from June 1st that most of our planting and seeding should be done. All hot weather annuals such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and basil can wait to be transplanted into our gardens in early June.

Carrots can be sown in four smaller batches starting June 1st. During the germination period of at least ten days, carrot seeds need to be kept moist in order to survive.The last sowing for carrots, if you want a high yielding crop, is the 28th week of the year (July 11th to 17th).

Early June is the time to seed squash and pumpkins. To protect the new seedlings from slugs, cover them with glass mason jars. As well, try using sturdy trellises to save on space in your garden. Another hint for a better yield is to pinch the late flowers and stems to encourage growth.

Over wintering crops include winter cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, leeks and parsnips. These seeds should be started in early June and transplanted four weeks later in July. Plant Brussel Sprouts and storage cabbage on July 1st so they will spend ninety days in the ground by the end of September. After that, they will need all of October and November to produce the solid heads of cabbage. Cauliflower planted in July will produce massive white heads in April.

Parsnips should be planted six inches apart, in rows a foot apart. They need lots of room, and consistent moisture during their germination period. Plant parsnip seeds just before the summer solstice because this allows the parsnip root to fully mature before we get frost in November. A solid frost greatly enhances the flavour of the fully developed parsnips.

Overwintering onions can be planted in late summer. Leeks are by far the hardiest of all our overwintering crops and they can be harvested all through the winter and well into May. If you don’t get around to eating all the leeks, leave some of them to flower because their global flowers are stunning and they will attract many beneficial insects to your gardens.

Happy Gardening!!

Information taken from WestCoast Seed Catalogue and Local Harvest Gardening Course. Edited by Wendy M

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