As the last tomato seedlings are tucked into the garden in late spring, many gardeners turn off their grow lights for the season. Not me! In fact, my grow lights are left on throughout summer to ensure a non-stop supply of high quality seedlings for succession planting.
Succession planting is a simple technique that allows gardeners to enjoy the longest possible harvest. As early crops are picked, the empty beds are then re-seeded or planted with fresh seedlings. With the exception of root crops, I prefer to use seedlings over seeds when succession planting. In summer the hot, often dry weather, plus the increase in insect pests, can make direct seeding difficult. As well, the seed of many crops won’t germinate when the temperature reaches a certain point – for example, the germination rate of lettuce nosedives at 27 C (80 F). Therefore, relying on my trusty grow lights to nurture my seedlings until they’re ready for transplanting just makes sense.
I’m also a year round veggie gardener, with many vegetables planted in mid to late summer. At that point, it’s impossible to find fresh broccoli, kohlrabi or lettuce seedlings at my local garden centres, so I need to grow my own if I want to enjoy a cold season harvest.