Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
September, 2012
Regional Report

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Happy, healthy bush cucumbers will give me harvest into October!

Plant a Succession of Delectable Vegetables

The other day, a gardener friend commented that his cucumbers were finished for the year and he was glad because he was tired of putting up pickles. I'm not sure I've ever had too many cucumbers, and this year my crop was nonexistent. But, happily I planted bush cucumbers about a month ago, after one of our sparse rains, in hopes of having a few for fall salads.

Bush Cucumbers Survived Drought
I do this every year to make up for losses from cucumber wilt, and this year the bush cukes held on through the drought and are in full flower right now. I probably won't have enough for pickles, but I'm thrilled to have some for fresh eating until the weather gets cold.

Succession Planting for Long Harvest
Succession planting can help you have a harvest throughout the entire planting season. The concept is simple. As soon as one crop has been harvested, another crop is immediately planted in that spot. It can be seeds or transplants, depending on the crop.

Bush Cucumbers Replace Diseased Vine Cukes
My cucumbers are an example of succession planting. I plant regular vining cucumbers as soon as my soil is warm and the danger of spring frost is past, and then when they are ceasing production or the blight takes them, the bush cucumbers I've planted later in the season keep me in fruits.

Lettuce and Swiss Chard
Setting Swiss chard transplants into the spots that open up when spring-planted lettuce comes out is another example of succession planting. Swiss chard will continue to produce greens all summer, long after the lettuce has given up.

Corn and Broccoli
When your sweet corn crop is finished in August, be ready to put broccoli transplants or snow peas in the same spot for fall harvest.

Relay Planting
Relay planting is variation on this theme with the same idea -- getting a continual harvest. Make multiple plantings of a crop throughout the summer to provide a continuous harvest. This works well with crops such as bush beans, beets, and carrots. Seeding some every two weeks gives you a steady harvest through the summer and into fall.

You can also make your harvest go further by interplanting or intercropping two or more types of vegetables together. This is an intensive method that takes advantage of different maturity rates, heights, spreads, and rooting depths. It is simply another method to assure maximum yield from a garden. The classic example of this is the "three sisters" planting. Corn seeds are sown and then two weeks later pole beans are planted at the base of the corn. The beans will use the corn stalks as a trellis. When the pole beans are two or three inches tall, winter squash is planted between them, making a living groundcover that provides squash late in the season.

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