Succession Planting

Do you get plumb ill when your tomatoes (or insert any vegetable name) become diseased and it seems like you just started harvesting? Or the lettuce you planted is done and you still want salad Many gardeners make the mistake of relying on one planting of a vegetable to be sufficient for the entire growing season. There’s a ‘thing’ called succession planting that may help out.

Succession planting is a gardening practice that involves planting tomatoes (or any vegetable) at intervals throughout the growing season.  It’s also described as planting a new crop after an old crop is done.  Planting this way, successively, ensures that, as older plants mature and end their production cycle, new ones start to produce. This article will focus on planting vegetables at intervals during the season. Using this technique requires planning and maybe adjusting varieties based on days to maturity or heat/cold tolerance.

Lettuce and radishes are popular vegetables to successively plant. Sow seeds every week into prepared soil, the reward is a good supply of fixings for salads during the spring months. For summer harvests, heat-tolerant varieties are recommended.

For vegetables like tomatoes or peppers, 2 to 4 plantings during the season is a good suggestion. However, this means you must have transplants ready to go in the ground on those dates. Planning is a must for this type of gardening.

For tomatoes and pepper, the first safe planting date for Central KY is May 5-May 15. The last safe planting date for central KY is June 15 to July 1. Many gardeners push these dates on both the early and late ends. An example would be planting tomatoes on April 30 (cold protection needed), May 30, and June 30.  A fourth planting could be attempted on July 30 (or earlier) using a tomato variety with 50-55 days to maturity. This last planting would potentially need cold protection as well (see Table 1).

Beans, sweet corn, squash, cucumbers, and carrots are other vegetables that are easily planted in succession. See the Table 2 for recommended intervals.

This method works well for those gardeners wishing to enjoy fresh garden produce for as long as the season allows. For gardeners wanting to preserve, more garden space should be devoted to larger plantings with roughly the same harvest date.

Using succession planting, a gardener can harvest more and better quality produce from a garden site during a given growing season. Gardeners know their garden site and can adjust planting and seeding times in the table below. Here’s to a great 2021 vegetable gardening season!

Table 1: Tomato or pepper planting and seed starting dates for succession planting

Plant outsideStart seedlingsNotes
April 30March 15May need cold protection Any maturity date
May 30April 15Any maturity date
June 30May 15Any maturity date
July 30June 15May need cold protection 50-55 days maturity

Table 2: Seeding/transplanting intervals for vegetables and herbs

CropsInterval between sowings/plantings
Leaf or baby lettuce Radish Spinach Cilantro7 days
Sweet Corn Bush beans Head lettuce10 days
Beets Turnips Parsley Basil Dill14 days
Cucumbers Melons Carrots21 days  
Summer squash30 days

Recommended intervals from Johnny’s Seed (

Submitted by Beth Wilson, Agent for Horticulture, Pulaski County Cooperative Extension Service

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About krjack4

Extension Agent for Horticulture Serving home gardeners and Green Industry professionals, including commercial fruit & vegetable producers. Advisor to: Christian County Master Gardener Association; Downtown Hopkinsville Farmers Market.