Successful Successional Planting


Cucumbers stacked up like a stepped pyramid

Temple to the great god Glut.

I have had an allotment for 16 years now, but I still struggle to balance between shortages and gluts of vegetables. one answer is to plant quick growing crops in small batches at intervals.

The conventional way is to plant short rows of crops and leave space for the next plantings. So if you have a carrot bed you gradually fill it over a few months. The downside of this is that you are leaving empty space, and whether you are trying to grow in a small garden or just hate to see weeds growing where you could be growing veggies, that is a problem.

This year’s plan is to take an idea from ‘Square Metre Gardening’, by Mel Bartholomew. He has a system for growing a lot of veg in a metre square plot divided like a 0’s and X’s board into 9 mini squares. Into each you plant 16 radishes, 4 lettuces etc. You can sow seeds directly, or to make the utmost use of space you can pre plant in modules so the spaces are filled with little plants.  (Most root crops are best planted as seed, unless you have very deep modules.)

Rather than making a metre bed, I will be looking round my plot for gaps 30cm square where I can plant this fortnight’s beetroot, coriander or spinach.

What about keeping things in rotation? Well there is an argument that by having a mix of crops you greatly cut down on the spread of diseases and the problems with insects as they find it harder to find their target plants.

Seed organiser: each section has seeds for a different crop, with enough to plant a 30cm square with two seeds at each station

And, because I am always running to keep up, I decided to set up a mindless successional sowing kit using a pill organiser. There four lidded sections for each day, and I have sorted seeds for radish, spring onion, spinach and beetroot, so each fortnight I just have to go and plant a the contents of one strip. As you can see I have dated the strips to remind myself when a planting is due. I do also have a note of what is in each section.