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Staggering continuous harvest crops

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Staggering continuous harvest crops Empty Staggering continuous harvest crops

Post  Phantomfoodie on 5/3/2018, 11:38 pm

Is there a reason to stagger planting for continuous harvest or cut and come again crops like kale, lettuce, etc.? If I can harvest little by little, wouldn't staggering only mean I'd have less food over all?

Got a later start than I had hoped this spring and planning on finally putting on some kale, lettuce, and radish tomorrow. Got spinach (which I meant to stagger but g=forgot and planted all 3 squares), peas and green onions done today.

Thanks!

PS Red Russian kale...1 or 2 per square?
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Post  sanderson on 5/5/2018, 3:07 am

Hi Phantom, hiddenID   Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here  I'm going to let someone more familiar with succession planting explain it.  I plant mostly for harvest to put up the food.  But, here in CA, it is year around gardening, summer crops and winter crops.

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Post  yolos on 5/5/2018, 12:47 pm

I do a lot of staggered planting.  Mostly corn and ????.  For example, I have three beds that are 3' x 8' that I use for corn.  If I planted them all at one time I would be harvesting about 100 ears of corn all at the same time.  If I plant them in blocks of 3' x 4' then I can plant 6 different blocks of corn.  I plant them 7-10 days apart and therefore I am harvesting about 16 ears every 7-10 days.  Which is just about right for our corn loving family.  The excess we do not eat at the time of harvesting is cut off the cob and frozen.  But there is nothing better than fresh so we always stagger planting.

You can accomplish the same thing by using different varieties that mature at different times.  For instance, I plant 5 different varieties of English Shell peas that have different maturity dates so they do not all come harvestable at the same time.  I also do this with Southern Cowpeas.  Three different varieties that mature at different times.

I do not use the cut and come again for lettuce but I do harvest the outer leaves over a long period of time.  I do the same thing for spinach.

Beans I pretty much plant all at one time and just freeze a lot of batches of beans that have been fully cooked and are ready to just reheat when needed for a quick vegetable.
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Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/5/2018, 2:13 pm

Hi Phantomfoodie. Welcome, also, from Atlanta, GA!

1/square foot. Here's what Johnny's seeds has to say:

SCIENTIFIC NAME:
Brassica oleracea
CULTURE:
Kale prefers a fertile, well-drained soil high in organic matter with a pH range of 6.0-7.5. Consistent moisture will produce the best quality leaves.
Direct Seed:
Plant from early spring to approximately 3 months before expected fall frost. For bunching, sow 3-4 seeds every 12-18", ½" deep, in rows 18-36" apart. Thin to 1 plant per group. For baby leaf production, sow 60 seeds/ft. in a 2-4" wide band ¼--½" deep.
EARLY SPRING CROP:
Use varieties suited to warm season production. Sow 2 seeds per cell in 50- to 72-cell plug flats, 3-4 seeds/in. in 20 row flats, or in outdoor beds ¼" deep. Seedlings should be ready to transplant in 4-6 weeks. If possible keep soil temperature over 75°F (24°C) until germination, then reduce air temperature to about 60°F (16°C). Transplant outdoors 12-18" apart in rows 18-36" apart. Kale prefers cooler growing temperatures, between 55-75°F (13-24°C), optimum being 60-70°F (16-21°C), but will produce good crops under warmer, summer conditions.
FALL CROP:
Start seedlings as above in May and transplant to the garden in June-July. To ensure mature heads, seed the crop early in areas where heavy freezes occur early in fall.
WINTER CROP:
Successful kale crops can be grown where winters are mild (temperatures rarely below 32°F (0°C)). Transplants can be set out from September to February in these regions.
PESTS AND DISEASE:
Kale is not as afflicted with pests as are other brassica crops, like cabbage. Apply row covers at the time of planting to exclude pests from the crop. Control cabbage worms and loopers with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt.). Black rot and black leg can be seed-borne. We only stock seed lots that have been tested free of black rot in a sample of 30,000 seeds. Individual seed lots have been tested free of black leg in a sample of 1,000 seeds.
NOTE:
A disease-free test result means that in the sample tested, the pathogen targeted was not found. It does not guarantee a seed lot to be disease-free. However, no method of seed treatment can positively ensure freedom from disease. We are glad to help with specific questions.
DAYS TO MATURITY:
From direct seeding; subtract about 14 days if transplanting.
HARVEST:
Beginning about 2 months after planting, harvest by clipping individual leaves. Kale is very hardy, and the eating quality will improve into the late fall with light frost. Late summer sown or planted collards can be wintered in cold frames or hoophouses, or in the open in mild regions, to extend the season. Protecting with row covers can extend the harvest period.

Yolos is correct. I don't know what YOUR schedule is like, but I don't have time to harvest & process large groups of an item at one time.... Even though I work from home, lol! Smaller batches are much easier to handle.
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Post  Turan on 5/5/2018, 2:30 pm

Hello from Montana and zone 4!

I have not had success stagger planting because my season is too short.  Lettuce works really well for me to just keep picking the big leaves and let the center grow.  I do plant mixed varieties that have various lengths of time until harvest but I find that often evens out in actual growing. Carrots I just keep thinning as needed and most are harvested in the fall for storage. With corn I am pleased if I can get one patch to harvest size.

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Post  sanderson on 5/5/2018, 4:28 pm

Red Russian Kale can get big if you don't harvest lower leaves as it grows. One per square or two if you regularly harvest.

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Post  Turan on 5/5/2018, 5:02 pm

I have been thinking about this thread, as I weed dandelions out of where I want to plant potatoes. 

To me staggered planting is for crops I want only fresh, where I pick the whole plant to harvest, and that have a short enough growing season for this to work in my climate. If I only grew for most pounds of food produced I would plant potatoes, beans, tomatoes, squash.  (Hmmm, interesting that those are all native to the New World.)  But I garden to provide a variety of fresh vegetables all summer, and a good supply frozen and canned for winter. For me the only staggered planting I can think of is bok choy and broccoli raab, they are fast and we pick the whole plant to harvest.  Radishes are also fast but do not bulb well in the summer for me.

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Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 5/7/2018, 11:41 am

I usually harvest leaves off my lettuce, rather than harvesting full heads. In my experience, lettuce usually needs to be planted at least twice, once in the spring, and once after the heat of summer. Lettuce doesn't last all season - it bolts (goes to seed) once it's old enough (and sooner if it's too hot/dry/stressed.)

When that happens, it becomes bitter -- more or less so depending on a number of variables including variety, and more or less detectable depending on your sense of taste -- and it's more focused on making flower stalks than making leaves. Staggered planting allows you to pull out the old plants that aren't producing big, sweet leaves any more and already have a younger plant already growing in a different square to provide those leaves for you. The emptied square can be replanted with something else. If you can get the timing down (and if the weather cooperates), you can have transplants ready to pop into the now empty square so it's yielding food again soon.

Spinach also bolts, and for me, it does so more rapidly than lettuce. Radishes will also bolt, and again, depending on various factors, may get bitter and/or woody when that happens. Pea plants will only grow and produce for part of the season - once they peter out cutting them down and planting something new is the path to more yield for the square.

Kale does not bolt for me until the next spring (if it survives the winter) so it's making leaves the whole season and doesn't need to be staggered, so I only plant it once. If I only wanted tender baby kale leaves, staggered planting would better provide that.

I see the point of staggered planting as a way of having more of what you're harvesting be mature (or young and tender, depending on the plant/your preferences) rather than past its prime, and having your squares be for actively growing/yielding plants rather than storage, as it were.
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Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/28/2019, 6:35 pm

What about cucumbers?  I only started 6 under lights, they are in.  I would like 12 total.  Seems like a good crop to stagger to me?  Thoughts???  I did do some canning last year for the first time!  Loved it!
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Post  OhioGardener on 5/28/2019, 6:45 pm

05.28.2019Scorpio Rising wrote:What about cucumbers?  I only started 6 under lights, they are in.  I would like 12 total.  Seems like a good crop to stagger to me?  Thoughts???  I did do some canning last year for the first time!  Loved it!

SR, it is not too late to starts some more cucumbers by direct sowing in the beds in our area - they will have plenty of time to mature. The maturity time for cucumbers is only 50 to 60 days, so they'll be ready for harvest early August if planted now.  But, I don't worry about staggering the cucumbers since they continue producing all summer long, up until frost stops them.

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Post  Turan on 5/28/2019, 6:51 pm

@Scorpio Rising wrote:What about cucumbers?  I only started 6 under lights, they are in.  I would like 12 total.  Seems like a good crop to stagger to me?  Thoughts???  I did do some canning last year for the first time!  Loved it!
Are there disease or insect reasons to stagger cukes where you are?  For me they continue to bloom and ripen fruit fairly continuously once they get started.

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Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/30/2019, 8:28 pm

Good point, OG and Turan...what are good things to stagger?  Like radishes, carrots, beets—I have never done it!
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Post  yolos on 5/30/2019, 9:04 pm

I stagger cucumbers.  Because of the perpetual downy mildew problem we have here in GA.  I plant a couple, then when the leaves get infected, I plant a few more.  I just keep doing that over the summer.  I do try to kill or hold off the downy mildew but you have to spray every week and cut off the diseased leaves so it is quite time consuming.
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Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/31/2019, 9:30 pm

@yolos wrote:I stagger cucumbers.  Because of the perpetual downy mildew problem we have here in GA.  I plant a couple, then when the leaves get infected, I plant a few more.  I just keep doing that over the summer.  I do try to kill or hold off the downy mildew but you have to spray every week and cut off the diseased leaves so it is quite time consuming.
Got it...I don’t think I  have had DM issues, but I have had PM, nothing that stopped growth.  Fingers crossed?  I think I have used milk spray for the PM with success a few times.  Last year, I had zero issues, but would have if the season had been normal!


Last edited by Scorpio Rising on 5/31/2019, 9:38 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : confusion!)
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