Some crops are best broadcast sown, that is to say sown over a wide area rather than thinly in rows.
Crops that work particularly well are fast growing leafy crops that will be cut regularly for their young leaves such as; salad mixes, lettuces, rocket, lambs lettuce (mache), spinach, leafy oriental brassica and herbs such as coriander or dill. The technique of regularly cutting leaves is called Cut-&-Come-Again or CCA for short.
CCA is a preferred growing method for salad leaves in the hot summer months because the roots are kept cool and shaded, leaves are harvested while young and sweet and the plants don’t get tine to go to seed in the heat. CCA is a useful technique because you can start harvesting sooner, particularly useful if you need to fill gaps from lost crops. It also allows for cropping over a very long period. I have had a patch of Mesclun growing and cropping for 8 months.
Preparing a Broadcast Seedbed
- Mark out an area for the bed and rake in a soil enhancer such as seaweed meal or well-rotted compost until the soil has a fine crumbly texture. Pick off any large stones and scrape off a thin layer of top soil and keep it aside in a covered bucket. Water the bed well and leave to soak in.
- Next day rake again to loosen the soil and create a flat surface pushing the soil to form a raised edges around the area. Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the whole area.
- Once the seeds are sown use a sieve to spread a thin layer of the reserved top soil to cover the seeds. Pat down with your hands and water with a fine hose.
Dry soil can be used in very hot conditions as a mulch as it prevents evaporation of moisture from the soil below.