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How to Succeed in Succession Planting

Succession planting is a trick that all farmers use. It keeps crops rotated and abundant. Here in the south, farmers are fortunate because we can pretty much get vegetables and herbs year round and while it may be easy to envy us, the truth is that planting here requires a lot more thinking, careful planning and requires a good understanding of growing requirements for each crop.

While most of you are busy weeding and marveling at the summer produce that you are gathering. Beaver Creek has already started planning our fall and winter crops. These crops include broccoli, peas, spinach, kale, winter greens, cilantro and arugula which we will plant in July to early August for harvest from September through November.

A few techniques that may prove helpful if you are planning for your fall and winter crops are:

1. Pull Some, Plant Some. As soon as summer have passed their prime, pull them out and replant. Utilize every square foot. Put the old plants into your compost pile, then aerate the soil and replenish nutrients by forking in some compost.

2. Screen the Sun. When planting in the heat of summer, it's important to keep the soil surface consistently moist. If it dries out, newly sprouted seeds may die and you will need to start over.

3. Sow the Right Crops. Plants that thrive in cool weather include: lettuce, spinach and arugula, carrots, beets, broccoli, Swiss chard, kale and all kinds of Asian greens. Choose disease-resistant varieties that mature quickly. If planting a late-season crop of peas, choose bush peas rather than traditional climbers, as they mature more quickly.

4. Don't Delay. Summer-planted crops typically require longer to mature than spring-planted crops (shorter days and cooler air temperatures slow plant growth). Using the days-to-maturity figure on the seed packet, add an extra 14-days as a "low-light factor". This will give you your summer planting date. When cold weather arrives, protect plants from frost and cold by covering them with fabric.

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