Sunday, July 6, 2008

Succession Crops

I often put in seed for succession crops for my lettuce and herbs. My lettuce will be seeded anytime I pull out a head. I put some lettuce seed in last week and it never came up. It was most likely eaten by slugs. So I'll try again today. A couple of weeks ago I put in some cilantro seed since all of my current plants are (dare I say it?) blooming their socks off. The new cilantro already has its first true leaf. I'll have to keep seeding since they bolt so easily. My dill is also blooming. I do have some plants that germinated late, so I have makings for dill pickles, but today I sowed some more seed.

My other succession cropping is my Asian greens. These I don't direct seed. I have two reasons for this. One, the slugs would destroy any plant that attempted to germinate - slugs really love boc choi. Two I don't have that much space in that section of the garden, so the extra two to three weeks of being in a 12-pack really helps out. Most of their life in the 12 pack they live outside. I only bring them inside at night (slug protection) and excessive heat. I have a spot to bury the 12-pack in the dirt and mulch so it doesn't heat up during the day.

Today one little 12-pack went into the garden, 19 days after the last one. I didn't use all of the plants. I only planted 8: 1 giant red mustard, 2 tatsoi, 2 boc choi, 3 fun jen (frilly boc choi). The three arugula plants in the pack and the two in the garden met their fate in the compost pile. I couldn't even stand picking the leaves the second time. They smell so bad to me. I wonder if I have some weird arugula hating gene. I'll soon sow a new pack and this time I'll add some more mizuna (which still is going strong from previous plantings) and Chinese cabbage for a fall cabbage crop.

My harvest was pretty good today. I picked quite a few peas, basil, squash blossoms, a whole huge mizuna plant, and tons of flowers (daisies, cosmos, snapdragons, mallow, both pink and pale yellow coreopsis, parsley, dill, feverfew, and some weed I let bloom but looks like a white aster) for a huge unkempt bouquet for the table. I really like the parsley flowers in my bouquets, but the dill is a little too light and airy and gets squished by the other plants. It is a striking flower in the garden, but doesn't seem to play well with the others.


  1. I am so impressed with your succession planting! I am horrible at succession planting, which is confounded by the evil rodent who ate lots of my lettuce. I picked enough tonight for salad for dinner today and tomorrow, but my plants are dwindling and bolting. I gave one head of bolted red sails to the hens, who ate it completely, stalk and all.

    Maybe I will try your method of starting the seeds in trays and then transplanting, as we have lots of slugs here, too.

    Ali in Maine

  2. I do a lot of succcession planting, but not always with the same crop. My first lettuce is in a sunny place, which is later given over to tomatoes or squash; the summer crop goes in a shady plot. Works pretty well.

    I'm trying to keep my cilantro going by cutting back the fringy bits as soon as they show and well before they actually flower; we'll see how that works. I have to say, though, I've become a major fan of coriander, so I do want them to go to seed eventually.

    My bok choi always bolts immediately. It never forms heads. What's your secret? Is it in full sun? I'm baffled.

    As for your flowers, and their sockless ways--I can only shake my head and sigh.

  3. Ali, thanks. I usually don't do as well, but this year everything is running like clockwork. I'm sure soon I'll be in trouble, since we are supposed to have a little heat wave start today. I'm hoping the Red Sails stands up to it. It did for the last heat wave, but then of course it got cooler again. I'm not sure that will happen this time. But regardless, I'll keep planting.

    Kate, I tend to rotate my plants religiously and the nightshade family has its own bed, though I have to confess, I have no clue if it helps or not. It might be just as good to mix all the plants up so they aren't next to one another. Also I throw black plastic on the tomato bed so it will heat up faster in the spring. I'm thinking of messing up my rotation next year though. I'm going to try a three sisters plot. So my beans will have to stay in the same bed they are in this year. It will totally mess up my lettuce for the summer. It usually grows under the bean tepee in the summer.

    As to why my boc choi is growing this year? Well you got me. I've never been able to grow it here before and now it is very happy - well it is growing. There are two different things I did this year. 1) Grow it under a row cover.
    2) Use Root Booster when planting (micorizal fungi).
    3) Use 2-3 week old transplants.
    It could be any of them. It could be all of them. It could be just randomness. They are in full sun, but the row cover probably cuts out a significant portion of the sun. Interestingly the row cover also cuts out rain (and wind). I put a container to measure the rainfall inside the row cover and one outside. I only get about half as much rain inside. So I have to hand water more often. Not recently since we have been getting half an inch of rain every day for weeks, but earlier I did.