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The Perpetual Harvest Hack: How to Grow A Continual Harvest of Fresh Food All Year Long Without Losing Your Mind Doing It

Paul Dysinger
Seedtime

Paul Dysinger is the co-founder of Seedtime. Together with his Dad Edwin they design ground breaking garden/farm planning software and teach thousands of people from around the world how to grow their own nutrient dense food at home.

Paul and Edwin, are 2022 Superfood Garden Summit presenters.
“The Superfood Perpetual Harvest Hack”

You know, I could probably start this post out by writing some fancy introduction or story or something…

But something is telling me, how about we jump straight to the chase? What do you think?

You game?

Ok, here goes…

How would you like a perpetual harvest of fresh veggies out of your garden every single week of the year (or greatly extending your growing season)?

I’m talking about fresh lip-smacking tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons during the summer, crunchy leaf lettuce and spinach in the fall, buttery Brussels sprouts with some powerful cabbage salad in the winter, and then back to spring peas, carrots, or beets.

It’s like replacing your grocery store with fresh food directly out of your backyard (think dollar signs!).

Or turning your garden into your living refrigerator.

Does that sound cool or what?!

The problem is… to pull off a perpetual harvest can be a little complex unless you have a good system to do it with.

Let me explain.

Have you ever heard of succession planting? Or I like to call it leapfrog planting.

See, the key with a continual harvest is that you need to always have something growing in the garden – all the time.

And every plant has its own life cycle.

There’s a time to seed it. It grows. And then it’s harvest time.

Eventually harvest time ends (different for each crop) and the cycle starts over.

This means that if you’re going to effectively plan a continual harvest in your garden you’ll need to understand the following:

  1. You’ve got to figure out when to plant your first crop
  2. Then how long before it will be harvested
  3. How long of a harvest window you can expect from it
  4. And then when to plant the second “leapfrog” or succession crop so that it is ready to go in when the first crop is harvested so you keep that garden space occupied
  5. Plus figure out how long in the season each crop can be grown (is it a warm season or cold season crop?)
  6. And then repeat that for every crop because they are all different

If you think that’s a little complex or overwhelming – you aren’t alone.

In fact, how in the world are you going to keep track of that for 20+ different crops, line them up, arrange them so they stagger after each other, all year long – without going crazy or losing your mind?

Yikes!

The good news is that there is a way. And we call it our Perpetual Harvest Hack.

See, back in the day my Dad Edwin and I made a bit of a rash promise to our gardening students when we told them that we would give them custom weekly checklists of what to do in their gardens based on their current locations.

We soon discovered that was a lot bigger of a task than we bargained for and none of the gardening tools we could find really made it much easier.

Granted, there are some tools out there to help know when to seed your crops in the spring or fall, like Johnny’s Seed Starting Calculator (here’s the fall version) or Away to Garden’s Seed Starting Calculator.

In fact, Johnny’s even has a succession planting spreadsheet.

But none of these really made it easy. Let alone automate a way we could give our students weekly checklists of what to do in their areas.

But a promise is a promise. So after intensive research we finally pulled off turning some massive gardening spreadsheets into our first simple Click ’N Drop Gardening Calendars.

And when we first showed them to our students – let’s just say they went crazy…
I’ve never seen gardeners so excited about anything in my entire life.

But the problem was, though our first calendars were one of the best products on the market, they weren’t fully customizable. And while they made planning a year-round garden easy, they were generic.

Our students needed something better. They needed a gardening plan they could personalize.

Which brings us to what we call our “Perpetual Harvest Hack”.

Or in other words we call it – Seedtime.

Seedtime is the first garden planner (that we know of) that makes it extremely easy to visualize exactly when to seed, transplant, and harvest crops in your garden all year long – based on your local area.

Which means when it comes to a continual harvest, there’s finally a way to line up all those plantings without crazy spreadsheets or headaches.

Let’s take lettuce as an example.

If you’re wanting a continual harvest of lettuce, you can quickly and easily drop your first planting into the calendar.

Then with a couple clicks you can drop in a succession planting a couple weeks later.

Throw these onto the timeline view and you can easily get a quick big picture of when each planting is going to be seeded and approximately when you can expect to be harvesting from them.

You can then repeat that process to add more plantings…

Or, if you’re dealing with a specific location in the garden you can change it up a bit.

Let’s say you want your second planting of lettuce to be ready to transplant into the garden when the first one is done harvesting.

Before, you’d have to manually calculate the days to maturity and harvest window, then backtrack about four weeks before the first planting is done harvesting to set the seeding date of your second planting so that it’ll be ready to transplant when the first crop is done.

Wow… that was complicated just trying to type that out.

But now, you can simply click and drag the transplanting task of your second lettuce planting and move it to the week after your first planting should be done harvesting – and everything else will automatically adjust.

Sweet!

That’s the power of click ’n drop garden planning.

And get this, you can do this with literally any crop! In fact, you don’t even have to follow one crop with the same one – you can follow the first crop with a different one.

Let’s take peas and green beans as an example.

Peas like cool weather so it is best to grow them in the spring. And when they are done harvesting, it is often a great time to plant a crop of green beans.

Just line up the seeding times and with a few clicks your schedule is set up.

But it gets even better!

Once you have your garden plantings setup, you can jump over to a weekly or daily task list that automatically compiles from your garden plan.

That’s what we call a game changer.

Now staying on track in your garden is as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

And that’s not to mention the fact that you can click on the tasks in your task list for a quick description of what to do, how to do it, and links to visual demonstration or training videos showing/telling you how to get each task done like a pro.

So if your mind is spinning right now… just know that this is the tip of the iceberg.

There’s a lot more you can do with Seedtime than I can fit into this one blog post.

But the key takeaway here is this:

If you want a continual harvest out of your garden – it just got a whole lot easier.

Your garden matters. Your family matters. Your health matters. And we’re on a mission to make it so much easier for you to focus on the fun parts of gardening without getting bogged down with all the planning/organizing tasks that can be such a chore.

In fact, if you throw in some simple protection methods like a quick hoop with a row cover or two, you can drastically extend your season or grow all year round in many places.

So are you ready to knock it out of the park this season?

Let’s get that perpetual harvest growing so you can replace the grocery store with your garden.

At the time of writing this, Seedtime isn’t open to the public yet. But if you want to get started with your own free account – here’s a special invitation link where we’re inviting Grow Your Own Vegetable readers to get early access:

Get your free Seedtime account here

You’ll get full access to everything for 14 days and then will automatically continue at the Free Forever plan level – or you’ll have the opportunity to upgrade if one of the higher plans fits your needs better.

Here’s to your success and a continual harvest of lip-smacking fresh veggies out of your very own backyard!

Wow! Go check out Seedtime, set up your FREE account, and share your insights here!

The #1 Key to Starting Healthy Seedlings

Marjory Wildcraft
The GROW Network

Marjory is a 2022 Superfood Garden Summit Presenter.

“How to have FREE breakfast for life!”

Marjory Wildcraft is the founder of The Grow Network, which is a community of people focused on modern self-sufficient living. She has been featured by National Geographic as an expert in off-grid living, she hosted the Mother Earth News Online Homesteading Summit, and she is listed in Who’s Who in America for having inspired hundreds of thousands of backyard gardens.

Marjory was the focus of an article that won Reuter’s Food Sustainability Media Award, and she recently authored The Grow System: The Essential Guide to Modern Self-Sufficient Living—From Growing Food to Making Medicine.

By: Marjory Wildcraft, The GROW Network

In my experience, the vast majority of problems people have when trying to grow plants from seed stem from insufficient light. A strong, reliable light source is not a luxury when you’re starting healthy seedlings—it’s an absolute must. You can compromise on many other aspects of gardening, but don’t cheat your green babies on the one thing they need most.

If you have a greenhouse, choose the brightest spot for your new seedlings. If you’ve been setting your seed trays on a windowsill, re-evaluate that choice. Remember: weak light = weak seedlings.

If you want husky, healthy seedlings, don’t gamble on the fickle winter sun filtered through a window.

Control the light, and you control the outcome!

Choosing the Right Grow Lights

Setting up a grow light today is easy and inexpensive, and it doesn’t take up much room. Bulky shop lights and fiendishly hot tungsten bulbs are fading into history.

Existing Shelf Space

If you have some empty space on a bookshelf or an empty shelf in a kitchen cabinet, you can easily install a couple of tiny T-5 light fixtures. There are also several LED offerings on the market. LED grow lights are powerful and super-efficient, and they generate very little heat.

Simply attach a light or two to the bottom of one shelf to light the shelf underneath it where your tray will sit.

If the shelf is adjustable, you are all set. If not, the tray can be elevated when the seedlings are started, to bring the surface of the soil within two or three inches of the light. That’s right! The light will be very close to the seeds.

Tabletop Light Stands

If you have room to start seeds on a countertop or a table, there are several tabletop light stands that are designed for the space. The typical design is a simple metal stand that holds the light, suspended by an adjustable string or chain.

Tabletop lights are small and easy to use, and they are available in a range of sizes.

Grow Light Stands

The next size up is the shelf model. These resemble a regular set of utility shelves, with a grow light suspended from the bottom of every shelf. These lights offer enough space and power to grow starts for the whole neighborhood!

These shelf units aren’t cheap, but they are very useful. In addition to starting seeds, they can be used to overwinter plants indoors, and even to grow summer veggies and herbs all winter long.

Strong Light = Strong Seedlings

If the seedlings you’ve grown in the past haven’t been the strong, stout, deep-green variety every gardener hopes for, it’s likely that they haven’t gotten enough light as they’ve grown.

Fix that one thing, and you’re much more likely to say “goodbye” to weak, leggy, pale seedlings—and hello to starts that grow into strong, healthy plants!

Share your seed starting success stories with us!

Getting Started Growing Your Own Vegetable and Herb Seedlings

Seedlings are the baby plants you see at the nurseries, ready to be transplanted into your garden. But you might want to grow your own instead. While there are many benefits of starting your own vegetable and herb plants from seeds, there is one BIG reason why you might consider purchasing instead. Here’s the most important considerations for growing seedlings at home. 

Benefits to growing your own:

  1. You know exactly how the seedlings were grown. Ensure your plants are grown organically without any toxic chemicals entering your garden. When purchasing ask whether plants have been treated. 
  2. You ensure your plants immunity is high for a healthy life. Temperatures and conditions are important to baby plants, and stress at a young age can cause transplant shock or a weak plant that doesn’t yield well. Sometimes you bring home a seedling, plant it, and it dies. And you’re not sure if it’s something you did. But it could just be a plant that wasn’t cared for properly.
  3. You have complete control of when you put plants in the ground. When purchasing transplants, you are relying on what’s available at the stores. And what you want is not always there when you need it. Growing your own means you can plan ahead for your most abundant harvest.
  4. You have access to hundreds of varieties of vegetables. There are so many varieties of mustard greens and tomatoes on the planet that nobody could even tell you how many there are. And that’s true of most vegetables. Choose exciting varieties for flavor, yield, what grows well in your climate. 
  5. You save money. Once you get the hang of growing HEALTHY plants and you have all the supplies, you will save money. However, the first few years, planting your own can actually be more expensive than buying transplants. This is the one BIG reason you may want to purchase instead.

Three garden supplies essential to growing your own seedlings

You’ll need 1) growing medium (not soil), 2) containers to put it in, and 3) grow lamps if you’re growing indoors. We’ll focus on containers in this article. But real quick, our favorite growing medium is Fox Farm Ocean Forest, It’s got everything your plants need in one bag, from earthworm castings, bat guano, sea-going fish & crab meal to forest humus and moss. This mix will not disappoint!   Click here to get it on Amazon. And here is a bulk order option

This article is too short to include recipes for making your own mix. A couple key ingredients to include are perlite, vermiculite, peat moss or Canna Coconut Coir and Wiggle Worm – Worm Castings. For small gardens choose the 4.5-pound size. For larger gardens choose the bulk 30-pound option.

This is not a complete list, just some of our favorites to get you started.

Reusable Containers for Starting Vegetable and Herb Seeds


Generally, plastic trays are flimsy and end up in the landfill after just one or two uses. However, one farm is changing all that and helping to redefine our relationship to the Earth. Bootstrap Farmer offers durable trays with a one year warranty against warping and breakage… that’s amazing! Clean trays between use to prevent disease spread.

These are the best, longest lasting trays on the market. And they have different cell sizes available. Get cells for smaller varieties like lettuces here and get larger six cells for your larger transplants like tomatoes and cucumbers here.

Containers You Plant Right in the Ground

Avoiding plastic altogether?, Consider Fertilpots over at Arbico Organics which compost right into your soil. Plant the whole thing in your garden and avoid any transplant shock from handling the plant. Unlike many similar compostable products, they are OMRI listed meaning the ingredients have been tracked as organic. Fertilpots are breathable and help prevent roots from getting root bound, too. However, the downside is that you have to keep buying more.

“Soil Blocking” Eliminates the Need for Containers

Soil blocking is a process where you press your growing medium together into squares that hold together without the need for containers. Once you have the right equipment for this process, you never have to buy containers ever again. However, you do have a higher initial investment to get started.

There are benefits to this method: no cleaning trays, conserving growing medium, and providing optimal root health. The details of how to soil block effectively is the topic of another post. NOTE: You’ll need to mix your own special growing medium (not one that you can buy at a big box store), and a bit of time to get used to the process. 

Soil blockers are for anyone who wants to get away from plastic, has a little extra time and money, wants the healthiest seedlings and plans to garden long term. 

20 Cell Soil Blockers come in a hand held and stand up  versions. The stand up soil blocker is much easier on your wrists, shoulders and back. 4” Soil Blockers are the largest blocker available and are perfect for your larger transplants like tomatoes, gourds, cucumbers, eggplant, etc.

How do you make your garden decisions?

Ultimately, there are many garden choices you will make. Some questions to consider: What do you really have time for? What feels like the best environmental choice for you? And what amount of investment feels good right now? Whatever suits you and your lifestyle is the right choice for you. And that goes for making decisions about seed starting at home, too.  

Check out our NEW Garden Freedom Series Micro Course for more information and instruction on successful seed starting. In this course, you’ll find resources for setting clear goals that reflect your values and make gardening everything you need and want it to be…

 

NOTE:  This article contains affiliate links and Grow Your Own Vegetables, LLC may be compensated when you click and purchase through the links above. By purchasing through these links, you’re supporting our mission to help green the planet and create food stable communities across the globe. We only recommend products we LOVE and that help growers on their quest for a fresh food lifestyle.