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Garden Lifestyle

Like Two Beans in a Pod

Succession planting is a way to grow more vegetables in garden beds, but it can work in containers, too.

  • Cool-season crops, like sugar snap peas, make a good first crop for succession planting.
    Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey
  • After cool-season crops are harvested, there may be plenty of growing season left for adding a second crop of warm-season veggies.
    Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

The vines of the French haricot verts have wound their way around the triangular trellis and the small purple blooms let me know I’ll soon be picking the first of this delicate crop of beans. I’m looking forward to enjoying these yellow pole beans because they follow the crop of sugar snap peas that grew in the container just a few short weeks ago.

By planting the beans to follow the peas, I was using the old technique of succession planting and proving it works as well in a large container as it does in the field or garden.

Succession planting is one of the ways to increase a season’s yield, even for gardeners with limited garden space.

Because the peas are a cool-season crop, I was able to plant them in the container in April and enjoyed watching them climb the trellis through the spring. I started plucking peas from the vine in June and used them in all kinds of veggie stir-fry dishes.

Instead of waiting for all the peas to be harvested, I planted a crop of warm-season pole beans in the same container. They sprouted quickly in the warm weather, grew up the trellis and intermingled with the peas. I was pleased to see the peas helped protect the seedlings from hungry birds.

After all the peas were harvested, I clipped the vines away from the trellis to reveal a new crop of veggies.

The key to succession planting is matching the amount of time each crop needs to grow with the number of days left in the growing season.

Peas and beans worked for me, but there are other vegetable combinations I could have tried, too. For example, I could have waited until I harvested all of the peas, tilled the container soil and planted a crop that would mature in the fall, like leafy greens, beets, turnips or carrots.

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