When the midsummer harvest is keeping you busy, it’s easy to forget to plant succession crops — additional plantings that will keep your garden producing well into the fall. Scratching out five minutes for planting now and then, though, can make a huge difference in your garden’s productivity.

If you hurry, you can still get in a planting of bush beans and they’ll probably produce before the first frost.

Carrots and beets can be planted now for fall use and can be stored in a root cellar or other cool but not freezing spot for winter consumption.

Keep planting head lettuce every week or two through mid-August for late summer and fall salads, and plant leaf lettuce, spinach, kale and collards into September.

Peas planted by Aug. 1 may give you a good fall crop. Radishes and turnips are also good late-season crops.

And garlic, of course, goes in around early October.

To extend the growing season, try making hoops to cover your late plantings. Get together with neighbors or a community gardening group, buy a Quick Hoops Bender from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and start bending 10-foot-long, 1/2-inch diameter galvanized electrical conduit into either 4-foot-diameter or 6-foot-diameter hoops. The benders cost $69, the conduit, about $2 each from places like Home Depot. The video at www.johnnyseeds.com/t-video_quickhoops.aspx shows how simple the bender is to use.

Cover the hoops with Agribon row covers in the fall (possibly supplemented with plastic once the snow begins to fall, suggests Eliot Coleman), and you can keep your greens and carrots growing into early winter and even overwinter some for late winter and early spring harvest.

If you’ve planted as many beds or rows of fall crops as you want, and more space opens up in your garden as you harvest summer crops, consider planting that area with green manures or cover crops. A mixture of winter rye and hairy vetch planted in August or early September should put on abundant growth in our area. The vetch fixes atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can use, so it limits your need to buy other sources of nitrogen. The rye and vetch help hold nutrients that are already in the soil so that they don’t leach or wash away, becoming pollutants, over winter.

Many gardeners avoid planting rye and vetch because the hardy growth can be difficult to deal with in the spring. Even if you are able to chop it up and rototill it under, it will take a couple of weeks before it breaks down enough that you can plant spring crops in that area. One solution is to cut the growth in spring with a scythe and compost it; or use it elsewhere as a mulch. You could also cover it with several sheets of newspaper held down with grass clippings and plant a vigorous, big crop, such as squash or pumpkins, through the mulch after it breaks down for a few weeks.

Gardeners who don’t want to deal with so much organic matter and who want to be able to get into their garden early the following spring often opt for oats in late summer as a winter cover crop. Oats are killed by a hard frost, so they’re easy to pull aside in the spring, allowing the soil to dry out and allowing you to plant early — to start another succession of lettuce, carrot, beet and other vegetable plantings.