In this episode, Beverly is joined by Angela Chandler of The Gardening Academy. They tell us about succession planting so you get the most of your container garden.

[Beverly] Hi, I’m Beverly Welch and we’re here at the Arbor Gate today in Tomball, Texas with Angela Chandler… – [Angela]

Good morning.

– …good morning, of The Garden Academy. And, you know, we always love to talk about edibles and using them in containers, using them in our landscape, and of course our garden plots. But one key that people often don’t think about is what we call succession planting.

– Right, what’s going to go in after this planting?

– Right, and some things like these gorgeous lettuces grow at such a fast rate. We don’t want everything ready for harvest at one time, and we want to ensure that we always have something to harvest.

– Yeah, we really do. As soon as we harvest, we want to be ready to go back in so that we don’t miss our good salads.

– Exactly. And lettuce, these cool-season greens are a perfect example and so easy to work with. These lettuce bowls are gorgeous, and if you want beautiful, lush, green color through the winter, you can’t beat them.

– You really can’t beat it and this is back to our ornamental landscaping. Beautiful in a container, the colors blend perfectly and give you something pretty to look at and good to eat. And it could be done in the garden. Everything we’re going to do today can be done in the garden as well. And when you have those bare spots in your beds over the winter, this can be done right in those beds, too.

– Right, and we keep referencing winter and it is April but we’re still cool enough to get one more crop…

– One more.

– …of these lettuces in, but it’s also a good technique for our other vegetables as well.

– For any of them.

– Like our squash and our cucumbers…

– Squash, cucumbers.

– …because again we don’t want all of our cucumbers or all of our squash ready on the same day.

– Especially if you have a small family, two to four people. Instead of planting a whole packet out or planting a whole row of something out, plant two or three or four of something. When that starts to sort of wane and decline, then you can go right back in behind it.

– So, one packet of these seeds can last you two or three plantings.

– It definitely will.

– So we’re going to plant, wait a couple of weeks, plant a few more, wait a couple of weeks, and plant again. Hence the name, succession planting.

– Succession planting. And so, one of the little tricks that I like to do is when you do start out, it’s always nice to go to the nursery and get your spring starts because they’re ready to go. Right out of wintertime, you’re ready to go. So I tell people get you a flat of gorgeous plants ready to go in that are seasonal for the time you plant. While you’re at the nursery, go through the seed racks and pick out a few packs of seed, make sure you pick up your potting soil and your fertilizer blend, and then we’re going to plant our lettuces in the bowl.

And then immediately after that same day, we’re going to go ahead and fill that flat with the Arbor Gate Soil Complete and plant our seeds out in that. By the time this is ready to harvest, those seeds will be ready to go back in.

– That’s perfect. And, you know, you’re right. You could use this tray as your planter.

– Yes, you can. It’s like getting a free planting tray…

– That’s a brilliant idea.

– …every time you hit the nursery.

– I never thought about that. So, we’ve got such a gorgeous selection here. It’s really hard to choose. They’re all so beautiful and so tasty. And, you know, even just working with them here and bruising the foliage, you could smell the freshness from these greens.

– Yeah, I love it.

– It is beautiful. So, as you said, we took our container, and we filled it with our Arbor Gate Soil Complete. So we want to also, though, make sure that we have good drainage, not block our hole.

– We do want to have good drainage, and one nice thing about these low, wide containers is they usually have more than one more drainage hole, and they do.

– They do.

– Then on top of that, we can use this Better Than Rocks.

– Right, right. And that actually helps filter, helps keep the soil…

– It does.

– …from washing out the drain holes. So we put this down and then fill it with our Arbor Gate Soil Complete.

– That’s right. We’re ready to go now. So the first thing I’m going to do is remember that we don’t really need fertilizer when we plant seeds right away, but we do need it when we’re planting transplants. We know that we want about a cup per square foot, okay, so we can kind of judge that with what we have in this container. So I can kind of know that that’s about as much as I need for this container.

– That’s the beauty of these organic products is…

– Non-burning.

– …you’re not going to mess up and it doesn’t have to be an exact science with the measurements.

– It doesn’t. And quite honestly most people if they would really sort of check and look, you’re slightly closed hand is about a quarter cup, a very wide open hand is about half, and holding it like this is about one cup. So there’s really no reason to hull all the measuring tools out in the garden. Use body metrics.

– Perfect. So I want to use this one. I love this curly, lacy…

– Yeah, just pick out some pretty ones.

– I will.

– They’re just beautiful.

– And this guy is gorgeous. Isn’t that pretty?

– Yep, Oak Leaf and Freckles.

– Oh, I’ll tie that.

– We like that.

– Yes. Okay, so we’re just going to start popping them in.

– We are.

– You know, it’s a good idea to keep these tags so that you know which ones were your favorites…

– I do.

– …if you want to go back, or at the very least it’s always a good idea to keep a little journal.

– Keep a journal. Well, actually, I keep a list of everything I plant and what’s going to go in behind it so that I do know how to manage my succession plant.

– Oh, that’s a great idea.

– And, one of the things I like to do with the labels is I like to keep them radially around the pot pretty close to what I’ve planted so that I can look and see, “Okay, what is that great lettuce because I want to make sure I get it next year?” They don’t have to be right next to plant. If they’re around the edge, you’ll know.

– You’ll know. And oftentimes the name is a giveaway, too.

– It is.

– This one’s called Flashy Butter Oak. Well, with that…

– Yeah, the oak leaf…

– …oak-shaped leaf.

– …you can sure tell it. Look how pretty it is.

– Oh, it’s gorgeous.

– Oh, my goodness.

– Let’s go with this one.

– It’s hard to imagine these are all edible.

– Oh, they’re beautiful. Here’s your stick.

– Thank you. We want to give them a little bit of room. We can kind of crowd them in here because we know we’ve got great soil, and we’ve got sufficient fertilizer.

– And we’re going to harvest…

– …but we just want to give them a little room.

– …our edges and make sure that we leave center, and then they’ll just regenerate. So with the succession planting, like this guy right here, we can cut this and have a great salad today.

– For a long time. And if you learn to gently break the leaves off of the edges, it’ll go for weeks and weeks and weeks.

– And then we’ll have our next one that we’ll move to while this one’s regenerating…

– That’s right.

– …and then move down the line. So typically having three lettuce bowls will keep you in fresh salad every night.

– Yes, it will.

– That’s another gorgeous one right here. Red Dog, I love that name. So most of these are some old…

– Salad should be pretty.

– Oh, it will be gorgeous. Now when we do this, we’ve got the Arbor Gate blend already mixed into the soil, which is our time-release slow feed, but it’s also a good idea when we first plant to give them a little bit of boost of a liquid food.

– It is. One thing we want to do is reduce any transplant shock. We’ve been very gentle with these. We haven’t disturbed the root balls because they were just perfect. But we do want to make sure we reduce any chance of transplant shock, and then we want to get the roots out into the soil. So, watering in with a good root stimulator is a good idea that has generally mild fertilizers in it.

Nothing’s too strong. And then by the time they start rooting out, they’ll be searching out for the blend that’s in here.

– Perfect, perfect. Well, that’s gorgeous.

– It is pretty.

– I know.

– Can’t wait.

– I know.

– And the lovely thing about planting in containers, succession planting or not, is that when it does start getting a little warm later this month, we can move this till it has just a little bit of shade relief especially in the afternoon, capture the early morning sun, and it’ll extend this even longer.

– It will. Thank you so much.

– Absolutely, Beverly.