Catch Cropping and Succession Sowing
When it comes to growing veg, a little planning at the start can go a long way and this will also ensure you have plants ready to harvest throughout the growing season. We’ve already seen how you can use ‘thinnings’ as micro veg, but there are other clever ways to maximise your Vegepod. Here we take a quick look at Catch Cropping and Succession Sowing techniques that can be used alongside our 12-week Growing Guide.
What is Catch Cropping?
Catch cropping is sowing fast-growing crops such as salads, that mature quickly and can be harvested in just a few weeks, planting them alongside other vegetables that take longer to mature. Parsley, for example, can take 8-10 weeks to get going, so it’s a good idea to grow other crops whilst you wait. But it’s important to choose vegetables such as radishes, that won’t compete with the parsley for light.
Why do you use Catch Cropping?
With catch cropping the idea is to grow two different crops close together, knowing that the first crop will be harvested before the second crop fills out and requires that space in the Vegepod. If, for example, you plant your seeds at the beginning of March, you could plant salad so you have microgreens ready to pick as you wait for the rest of the vegetables to mature. During April you can harvest your cut-and-come again salad, such as rainbow chard. And by May you should have Cos lettuce, pea pods and baby carrots ready to harvest.Our Growing Guide will give you more examples for catch cropping between the slower-growing veg.
What about Succession Sowing?
So what happens once you’ve had your first harvest from your Vegepod? If you’ve followed the 12-week Growing Guide, by the end of May your cut-and-come-again salad might be finished and your carrots harvested. If this is the case, there may be some space at the front of the Vegepod that you can use again.
If you have a patch in your Vegepod that you’d like to re-use, it's a good idea first to turn over the compost to refresh and aerate it. You can also add some fertiliser to top up the nutrient levels before you sow the new seed.
Why do you use Succession Sowing?
If you want a harvest all the way through the season, it’s a good idea to sow seed of quick-maturing veg in batches every two or three weeks. You can either sow the same crop again, or try a new one. It works best with quick-maturing plants such as carrots or spinach, or those that are prone to bolting, such as coriander or rocket, which you can pull out and then repeat sow.
The advantage of successional sowing is that you will already have created an optimum growing environment in the Vegepod in which to continue to grow your veg. Once the new vegetables are ready, you can harvest them at their peak, bringing light and water to the neighbouring plants and freeing up more space, ready to start new sowings once again.