Permaculture in Action

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Succession Planting

Here are the snow peas we planted in April. We started harvesting them in early June. From this bed and another smaller one we are able to give our CSA customers 100g each a week, (that would be worth $3.30 in the organic shop). 

This is what that bed looks like now. We will leave it to  develop our seeds for next year before removing them to plant tomatoes. The tomatoes will love the extra nutrients provide by the nutrient-rich peas.


The pea is swelling and the skin is becoming clear. Once it's dry, it's ready to pick and store away for next year.

Here are more snow peas that we planted a month after the first lot. There's another similar bed and, with these two beds, we are harvesting as much as we need for the boxes and ourselves and other family members.

And when their harvesting time comes to an end, we have another bed of peas ready to take their place which were planted a month later. These should take us up to the harvesting of the beans.

Through successive plantings, we are able to maximise our harvests. The most often asked questions at our gardening-related workshops are to do with what and how many vegetables to plant. The what part of the question depends a lot on what people like to eat, but what they really want to know is at what time of year should each veggie be planted and that's mainly to do with our limited knowledge of seasonality. So we help them out with a generalised guide to what grows when in our local area.

To answer how many, I suggest that they make a list of the vegies they and their family like to eat and then think about the amount of each that they eat in a week. I suggest they plant four or five varieties of things like lettuce that can have the outside leaves plucked while leaving the rest to continue to grow. For others, make successive plantings every three to four weeks. For example, if you eat one cabbage a week, plant four in your first planting and then, four weeks later, put in another four. Likewise with beans, cauliflower, cucumber, peas, sweetcorn and tomatoes. Once again, this is only a guide as all  families are different. I suggest that they make a start and keep good records of what they planted, when they planted and how much they were able to harvest. Then next year they can adjust their plantings to better suit.

Here we are using the chooks to prepare beds for sweetcorn on the outside edges of the mandala gardens. The chooks scratch and fertilise the beds and every two weeks the dome will be moved on and 40 sweetcorn seedlings will be planted in the prepared ground.

Today we are featured over on Liz's blog Eight Acres. Liz interviewed us about our house cow in her  series, Getting started with homestead dairy. Please pop over and take a look at the interview and while you're at it take a look at what she's doing in her neck of the woods. Some pretty inspiring stuff!


  1. I have really enjoyed succession planting, although our snow pea season is so short - as soon as there is a tinge of warmth they turn up their toes. I waited a bit too long to plant more bok choy and now am anxiously waiting for the next batch to grow a little bigger. At the moment I can sneak a few leaves onto our salads as micro greens :) I wish I could sign up for your CSA boxes, they look as though they are filled with wonderful produce.

  2. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, I learn so much from what you are doing at Purple Pear Farm :)

    I must get busy and plant some veggie seeds while the weather is being kind...

  3. It is a bit tricky to get the succession planting right. Right now the big question here is will there be another big frost so do I or don't I plant some corn seeds? I'm going to err on the side of planting a small bed on the ideal of nothing ventured nothing gained.
    Your tomatoes will be all the better for those snow peas that's for sure.

  4. I haven't gut succession very organised yet, but I just hope that if I plant heaps in Spring and Autumn that enough will grow to keep us going and there are always a few volunteers that self-seed as well! Lovely to see a Linda Woodrow chook dome in action too. That questions of when and how much to plant is so tricky and can only really be figured out by trial and error and some years what you thought was going to do well doesn't and something else does instead. Its makes planning difficult, and I am impressed that you managed to keep the CSA going, if I was in charge they would have lots of kale and not much else at the moment!

    1. We have actually managed to have the best season regarding our CSA this year. Variety has been very good and every box has been at least at it's minimum, but usually more. I think we are becoming better at our succession plantings.

  5. We've absolutely loved our garden this Winter.. we were so abundant in greens and other things that we use so often. I'm really hoping to be successful over the Summer months and I think succession planting will be of great help... thanks for another great post! :)

  6. We usually have a glut of something and right now it's leafy greens, mostly spinach. Thanks for the wonderful posts, they are always very informative. I love how you priced the snowpeas at 'organic prices. I recently had a conversation with a friend as to why you would grow carrots when you can buy them in the supermarket for $1.50kg. I reminded her that if she bought organic carrots then the current price is $7 kg.