Succession sowing and inter-cropping
The month of May sees the height of sowing and planting for the summer vegetables and succession sowing and inter-cropping are two different ways to get the maximum vegetable harvest from your space and delivering a steady flow of produce to the kitchen through the summer.
Succession sowing simply means that you do not sow all your seeds at the same time so that you do not get all the crop ready at the same time. This is one of the main areas where growing at home is different from commercial vegetable production. Spreading the harvest is more important than economies of scale. So if you reckon that you will use 2 or 3 lettuces a week throughout the summer, then sow ½ a row of seeds once every 3 weeks so that the mature plants do not get tough or bolt before you want to pick them.
Inter-cropping is a way that you can squeeze that half row of radishes (or any other quick crop) in between rows of vegetables that will not mature for several months, like onions or sweetcorn. You need the long term veg to be fairly upright so there is room and light for the smaller crop in between. It does not work well with courgettes for example which will quickly sprawl across your ‘catch crop’ as well as taking up all the available water. Inter-cropping is also good for plants that grow well without direct sun all day; summer spinach grown for young salad leaves is a good example as it prefers some shade.
A bit of time spent planning and taking advantage of all your empty space will yield great results and a supply of fresh veggies from the garden all summer long.
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Happy Gardening, Alison