Succession planting staggers the harvest dates of crops to provide a steady supply and maximise food production from limited space. Multiple crops also mitigate the risk of damage from pests and weather.
The following is a sample succession plan that alternates cool and warm season crops to maximize the short growing season in Calgary. Often poor growing conditions such as cold springs, summer heatwaves, or hail can cause plants to germinate and grow slower than expected and will require succession plans to be flexible!
Notes for Plan:
- Based on a 4ft X8ft raised bed. The trellis is placed at the North-West end to prevent shading. Beds at CGGS that have connecting beds need to place any trellises or tall plants so that they do not shade other beds.
- Most varieties selected have short days to maturity (under 60 days).
- All crops are seeded except the squash which are seedlings as they need a longer and warmer growing season.
- The garlic can be any variety of hard neck. Cured cloves are planted in the fall. The scapes (flower buds and stems) are generally harvested mid-July to early August and the bulbs are harvested early September.
- The sugar snap peas tend to be finished by August and may become mildewy in hot weather. They are then pulled to make more room for the squash.
- The lettuce has staggered seeding dates to provide a continuous supply of “pick and come again” crops. The spring lettuce is removed in mid and late summer (tends to bolt in hot weather) to make room for the expanding bush beans, and planting of spinach and fall garlic.
- Beet greens can be picked keeping enough to keep growing the root.
- Carrots will have floating row covers installed after germinating to keep out carrot rust fly.
- The spinach, swiss chard, lettuce, and carrots can be harvested around the first frost or later into October if using frost protection.
Certain plants have been shown to be beneficial when planted together. Plants can serve as a sacrificial target to pests, provide support or shade, repel pests, improve soil nutrients and provide soil conditioning. Companion planting can also save space.
The following companion plantings have been included in the succession plan above.
- Beans and lettuce – beans fix nitrogen and will provide some shade to lettuce mid-summer.
- Garlic and swiss chard, beets, or spinach are commonly planted together. Garlic repels carrot flies, fungus gnats and ants. Garlic should not be planted near beans or peas as it may stunt their growth.
- Carrots and radishes – The radishes germinate and mature much faster than the carrots and if inter-seeded will help thin the carrots and loosen the soil when pulled.
- Marigolds – Marigolds attract pollinators and beneficial parasitic wasps. They also produce chemicals that repel pests.