Successional sowing, interplanting, relay planting and thinning

Be sure to read the section on basic growing techniques first

<aside> 💡 The basics section of this book covers all of the fundamental skills and techniques of gardening. This section covers a few of the more advanced techniques. It's best to get the hang of the basics, get familiar with how long plants take to grow and how fast they grow before you move on to using some of these at scale. Start small and experiment.


This section provides an overview of the main techniques for growing more and sometimes healthier, food from the same space. These are the basic techniques of high intensity growing. The rest of this chapter provides lots of examples of how to do this for specific crops. My individual growing guides provide detailed instructions for each fruit/vegetable.

The techniques I'm going to cover are:

  1. Start seeds in modules
  2. Successional sowing
  3. Interplanting
  4. Relay planting
  5. Progressive thinning

Let's dig into a little more detail:

Start seeds in modules

For all the details of sowing in modules see my chapter on sowing seeds!

Many gardeners start off sowing seeds directly into the ground. This appears to be easier and quicker, but it's often a false economy. Direct sown seeds take longer to germinate, germinate erratically, are more exposed to pests and diseases, need thinning out and occupy valuable bed space for longer than module sown seeds.

Module sowing just means starting seedlings in pots of some sort and transplanting them when they are about 30-60 days old. Modules are just the most efficient type of 'pots' to use.

<aside> 💡 Carrots and parsnips are the exception here, they do better sown direct.


When you sow in modules, you can germinate indoors, grow seedlings in ideal conditions away from pests and disease, optimise watering etc. You plant you modules out when conditions are ideal and the plants are strong and healthy, better able to respond to pests and disease. Often you will be sowing in early spring and planting out in late spring, so those extra 30-60 days in ideal growing conditions makes a huge difference.

Having trays of module sown seeds all ready to plant, means that as one crop finishes, you have another all ready to grow strongly. You don't have seedlings occupying ground for as long, so you have plants that are ready for harvest occupying the ground for longer.

The bottom line is that you get a much bigger and healthier harvest and can squeeze more successions into the same ground, see the next section.