QUESTION: Should you succession plant tomatoes? Or will it not work well? I’m setting up for spring and I’m planning my garden now. – Ulrica W
GARDENING CHANNEL REPLIES: Succession planting tomatoes is a great idea if you’re comfortable working with determinate varieties, want to get more use out of your growing area, and have a longer growing season.
For those who aren’t familiar, succession planting is a technique used in gardening to maximize the use of space and resources by planting crops in a continuous, staggered pattern throughout the growing season. Instead of planting all of a crop at once and harvesting it all at the same time, succession planting involves planting a smaller amount of a crop at regular intervals, so that there is always some portion of the crop that is mature and ready for harvest.
This can help to ensure a steady supply of fresh produce throughout the growing season, rather than having a large crop all at once that may go to waste or become overwhelming to manage.
So now on to your questions about tomatoes specifically.
If you’re working with determinate varieties of tomatoes, begin your growing season with tomato plants which were designed for producing early. This may include smaller tomatoes such as the Bush Early Girl.
Then four to six weeks later, start indeterminate tomato plants. These will produce until frost impacts them. There are many varieties to choose from for this planting.
This allows you to produce tomatoes throughout the entire growing season. It could also help you produce more in a smaller garden.
For instance, when the early tomatoes finish up, you could pull them and plant indeterminate varieties. This will allow you to utilize the same area for multiple types of tomatoes.
Other benefits to succession planting tomatoes is that it can help deter pests and diseases. Some earlier varieties of tomatoes may be more susceptible to fungal issues due to the temperatures being colder and wetter growing conditions.
Allow these plants to produce and pull them when done. Then plant an indeterminate variety in their place. These plants shouldn’t be plagued by the same issues as the earlier tomato plants.
By removing sick plants from your garden, you’re also removing the drive for pests to want to be in the growing space.
Your situation will determine if succession planting tomatoes is the right thing for you. If you’re in a warmer climate and have a smaller growing space, this could be a great way to produce more tomatoes.
If you struggle with pests and diseases ravishing your tomato harvest each year, succession planting may be able to help with this.
However, if you’re growing tomatoes in a cooler climate and have a shorter growing season, succession planting may not work for you.
Look at your situation, determine what works for you, and if you think there’s a benefit to this method of growing tomatoes for your circumstances, give it a try.
You may find that succession planting tomatoes is the thing your garden needs most, and it could help you enjoy tomatoes with less work throughout the growing season.