Scheduling Vegetable Plantings for Continuous Harvest


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Scheduling Vegetable Plantings for Continuous Harvest

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Scheduling Vegetable Plantings for Continuous Harvest

  1. 1. Scheduling Vegetable PlantingsATTRA for Continuous Harvest A Publication of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service • 1-800-346-9140 • www.attra.ncat.orgBy Janet Bachmann Market gardeners try to schedule their planting so they can offer customers a continuous supply ofNCAT Agriculture fresh flowers, herbs, and vegetables throughout the growing season. This publication helps growersSpecialist plan planting times and succession planting.© 2008 NCAT annual fi rst-freeze date in the fall. You can get these dates for your area from your local Extension agent or garden store. You can find a USA Frost Zone map online at www.Contents Temperaturechart .................................... 2 Weather has a large influence on timing because of its effect on seedling establish-Succession Plantingchart .................................... 3 ment and crop growth. For example, peasReferences ........................ 4 planted at the fi rst possible planting date inResources .......................... 4 the spring and then again two weeks later will usually mature only one week apart. Germination conditions at the time of the second planting will likely be much better, and the young plants will grow faster as the days lengthen, slowly catching up with the fi rst crop. This same process happens in reverse for fall crops. Even a couple of days’ difference in midsummer planting dates can Photo by Edwin Remsberg, USDA/CSREES. lead to a harvest date difference of two, or even three, weeks. (Ogden, 1992.) Two ways to extend the harvest period for T he best approach to planning for some crops are: 1) to plant varieties with a a continuous harvest is to keep good different number of days to maturity at the production records from previous same time; and 2) to plant the same variety growing seasons and to compare notes with multiple times in succession. other local growers. You also can find informa- Sweet corn often is grown in successive tion in seed catalogs and Extension bulletins. plantings to prolong the harvest season. A You need to know, or be able to estimate: good way to stagger sweet corn plantings • appropriate planting dates is to wait until one crop is 1 to 2 inchesATTRA—National Sustainable • number of days to harvest tall before planting the next. Sweet cornAgriculture Information Service tends to emerge more slowly in cool soilis managed by the National Cen-ter for Appropriate Technology • length of harvest from fi rst to last (50–55°F) than in warm soil (68–77°F).(NCAT) and is funded under a pickings Standard sweet corn varieties are better forgrant from the United StatesDepartment of Agriculture’s Rural These factors are affected by several things. early spring plantings than the super-sweetBusiness-Cooperative Service.Visit the NCAT Web site (www. Weather, for example, is a major variable. varieties, since the super-sweet Appropriate planting dates are commonly wont perform as well in cool soil. Sowingphp) for more informa-tion on our sustainable scheduled around the average annual frost- sweet corn about one week before the aver-agriculture projects. free date in the spring and the average age frost-free date is a rule of thumb for the
  2. 2. very earliest plantings. On the tail end of bred to mature in 70 days, while others the planting season, make your last planting require 100 days. about 80 days before the average fi rst fall Planting in accordance with optimum soil tem- frost date. In addition to sequential plant- perature is another common way to schedule ings, you can plant varieties that require plantings. The table below, Soil Tempera- different lengths of time to reach maturity. ture Germination Ranges for Select For example, some sweet corn varieties are Vegetables, provides a quick summary. Soil Temperature Germination Ranges for Select Vegetables TEMP (° F) PLANT 45–85 cabbage, kale, broccoli, collards (germinate well at 85, seedlings prefer 45–65) 35–80 lettuce and most salad greens (at more than 80, germination rate drops 50%) 35–75 spinach (optimum 68) 50–85 onions (optimum 75) 45–95 radishes (optimum 85) 50–85 beets, Swiss chard (optimum 85)Related ATTRA 60–85 beans, snap and dry (optimum 80)Publications 70–85 beans, lima (optimum 85)Community Supported 40–75 peas (optimum 75)Agriculture (CSA) 60–95 corn (optimum 95)Market Gardening: 65–82 tomatoes (optimum 80)A Start-up Guide 60–95 peppers (optimum 85) 65–100 cucumbers, melons, squash (optimum 80–95) From: Market News, March 1995. Insects and diseases are another major personal plan for successive plantings. factor that can affect production schedul- The Succession Planting chart, on the ing. In the humid southeast, tomato grow- next page, can be used as a template and ers often plant both spring and fall tomato adapted for your location. crops because the early plants succumb A beneficial outcome of the Community to disease in mid- Supported Agriculture movement, with summer. A market its heavy emphasis on multiple crops and gardener in North a continuous supply of customer favorites Carolina reports that throughout the season, is the development she sets out tomatoes of record-keeping and crop-planning sys- three times during the tems geared to direct market farmers. A few growing season. She of these can be found through the resources also notes that squash listed below. You can find many others vine borer is so bad in in the ATTRA publication Community summer squash that Supported Agriculture (CSA). she only gets about The ATTRA publication Market Garden- two weeks of harvest ing: A Start-up Guide also provides ideas from each planting. and resources for vegetable planning and Once you have a record-keeping. You can fi nd these publi- framework of possible cations at the website, draws customers at farmers markets. planting dates, you attra-pub, or order a free printed copy byPhoto courtesy Jim Lukens, SSAWG. can work out your calling 800-346-9140.Page 2 ATTRA Scheduling Vegetable Planting for Continuous Harvest
  3. 3. Succession Planting esti- seed seed plant plant actual interval mated length ofCROP to flat, to flat, to field, to field, days to days to harvest between comments planned actual planned actual harvest plantings harvestarugula 30 2 weeks best in cool weatherbeans, bush 60 2 weeks summerbeans, lima 65 * summerbeans, pole 60-70 * summerbeets 40-70 2 weeks spring & fallbroccoli 60-70 f.t. 2 weeks spring & fallcabbage 70-80 f.t. 3 weeks spring & fallcarrots 85-95 3 weeks spring & fallcauliflower 50-65 f.t. 2 weeks spring & fallcollards 60-100 * fallcorn, sweet 70-100 2 weeks summercucumbers 60 4-5 weeks summeredamame 70 * summereggplants 65 f.t. 8 weeks summerkale 40-50 2 weeks spring & fallkohlrabi 50-60 2 weeks spring & falllettuce, head 70-85 2 weeks spring & falllettuce, leaf 40-50 2 weeks best in cool weathermuskmelons 80-90 2 weeks summerokra 70 * summeronions, dry 90-120 f.t. *onions, green 85 2-3 weeksgreens 30-60 2 weeks best in cool weatherpeas 55-70 * spring & fallpeas, 65 * summersouthernpeppers 60-70 f.t. * summerpotatoes 90 * spring & fallpumpkins 90-120 * summerradishes 25-30 2 weeks best in cool weatherradishes, 60-75 * spring & falldaikonspinach 50-60 2 weeks spring & fallsquash, summer 45-60 4-8 weeks summersquash, winter 90-120 * summertomatoes 65-90 f.t. 2 summerturnips 35-40 2 weeks best in cool ATTRA Page 3
  4. 4. Reference: Markets. Growing Small Farms: Farm Planning andOgden, Shepherd. 1992. Step by Step Organic Record Keeping. Harper Collins Publishers. p. 113-114. SustAg/farmrecords.html Hitt, Alex. 2007. Organic Vegetable Production &Resources: Marketing in the South. Southern SustainableDelahaut, K.A. and L.K. Binning. Fresh Market Veg- Agriculture Working Group. CD-ROM (Word only).etable Production Planting and Harvest Dates. Univer- This new resource follows Alex and Betsy Hitt’ssity of Wisconsin Extension. 2 p. Online at www.uwex. system, including soil building, pest management,edu/ces/wihort/fruitveggies/HarvestDates.htm planting, and much more. The section on record keep- ing includes the questions Alex asks when he plansJauron, Richard. 2007. Planting and Harvest Times for continuous harvest. Available for $15 plus $7.50for Garden Vegetables. Iowa State University Exten- shipping from: Southern SAWG, c/o Buckinghamsion Service. 2 p. Online at Business Services. P.O. Box 22. Hillsborough, NCPublications/PM534.pdf 27278, www.ssawg.orgAnon. 2008. Recommended planting dates by month and Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability:week. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Catalog. 1 p. Resources for Instructors. Center for Agroecology &Evans, Erv. 1999. Growing a Fall Vegetable Garden. Sustainable Food Systems. University of Santa Cruz.North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension. 3 Designed to be placed in a one-inch, three-ring binderp. Online at so that sections can be easily removed and copied for class use. Available from CASFS for $30.00 (taxHume, Ed. Fall and Winter Vegetable Planting Guide. and binder included) plus $4.00 shipping. CAFS, UCOnline at Santa Cruz. 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95064,Gruver, Joel. Crop Scheduling for Continuous 831-459-3240. Or download free of charge from:Harvest/Planning Spreadsheets for CSA and Farmers’ Scheduling Vegetable Planting for Continuous Harvest By Janet Bachmann NCAT Agriculture Specialist © 2008 NCAT Cathy Svejkovsky, Editor Amy Smith, Production This publication is available on the Web at: or IP323 Slot 216 Version 060208Page 4 ATTRA