Quick-maturing vegetables, including carrots, French beans, peas, salads and spinach, are best sown regularly in small batches. This will produce a continuous, fresh supply of these highly perishable crops.
For plants that are prone to bolting, such as coriander, rocket and spinach, successional sowing is especially crucial.
Keen gardeners may choose to grow some longer-fruiting crops such as courgettes, cucumbers, runner beans and sweetcorn in two batches to ensure they have plants in peak production well into autumn.
Choose a range of cultivars for continuous cropping. Quick-maturing ones such as lettuce ‘Little Gem’ and carrot ‘Adelaide’ are ideal for successional sowings, but later-maturing, main-crop cultivars are also useful and, once mature, often remain in good condition for longer.
Plants that do not need to be successionally sown include those which produce fruits over a long period such as aubergines, peppers and tomatoes; those which store well, such as onions and pumpkins; and winter vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and leeks that need a long season to mature and can then be left in the ground to be picked in stages.