Now that the peas have given their all, it is time to rip out the straggly plants and get the space filled with another crop. And so we go into succession planting, replacing one crop with another.
Some plants, such as tomatoes, have a long growing season and need to stay in place all summer to allow time for ripening. Others need early planting and will be harvested early in the season and provide room for later crops.
Planning can almost double the number of vegetables a gardener who has limited space can produce.
Some early producers such as peas, spinach, lettuce, radishes and turnips will not do well in summer's heat but, with careful planning, you can find a space for them late in the season and bring in another crop before the first frost.
Some of your space probably is dedicated to perennials such as raspberries, asparagus, horseradish, rhubarb and chives, but the rest of the garden is fair game.
For a second crop, consider beans (both bush and pole varieties), cucumbers, peppers, squash, sweet corn and tomatoes. With plenty of water to help them through the heat, they will do well. As these are harvested late in the summer, plant the cool season crops again.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You also can use this technique in the flower garden, replacing pansies, primroses and the like with the petunias, portulacas and zinnias that love the heat.
Another benefit of succession planting is to plant the same crop successively. Planting bush beans every two weeks through the summer will ensure a harvest from late June until October if the weather cooperates. Cabbage will work here, too, and instead of a surplus of that crop all at one time, you can harvest all summer.
Tomatoes, eggplant, Brussels sprouts and peppers will not respond to this technique because they produce their fruits over a long time on the same plants.
It is possible to grow two crops in the same place at the same time with some consideration. This inter-cropping, or companion planting, means growing fast-growing crops along with slower-growing ones.
Beets, spinach, radishes or lettuce could be planted in the same rows as broccoli, tomatoes and cabbage. The early-maturing ones will be finished by the time the tomatoes and broccoli have grown to full size and need a greater share of water and nutrients. You have to remove the finished plants with care when their time is over to minimize disturbance of the roots that remain.
I am a great believer in concentrated planting, where vegetables are spaced much closer that recommended.
My corn, Gotta Have It, recommends on the packet to thin the seedlings to 12 inches apart. When I drive by fields of corn, they appear to be spaced about every 6 inches, and I don't know why sweet corn should be different. (Don't tell me if you know.) So that is what I did last year, and I had a huge harvest.
I rotate corn, green beans and peppers in my biggest three plots. This year, the corn has the place with the shortest time of full sun, but so far it looks wonderful.
We all need to make the best possible use of our land, and succession planting is a sure way to do that.