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The vegetables I have found worth sowing and growing in clumps

For certain vegetables, there are considerable benefits of sowing two or more seeds together, as opposed to a single seed per module or station:

  1. Grow more plants in the same area of propagating space
  2. Use less compost to propagate the same number of plants
  3. Save time because you are planting two or more at once.
  4. There is a companion effect: I observe how plants like being with their friends in clumps.

To learn much more, and about sowing generally, see the multisowing lesson of this bargain module in my new Skills online course.

Because you can grow more plants in the same space, it’s feasible to grow more early crops of say turnips and radish, at a time when warmth for propagating is scarce and precious, in February and early March. Harvests of radish and turnips in April and May are welcome as ‘hungry gap’ vegetables, when fresh food is scarce. You then have time to clear the crop residues before plantings of summer beans, courgettes, brassicas etc.

In my experience, other vegetables not mentioned here make better harvests as singles. For example cabbage and lettuce to make hearts, swede to make large roots.

  • It’s easier to pick the outer leaves off single lettuce plants, then off those in groups of two or three.
  • On the other hand, it works well to pick larger leaves off two or three salad rocket plants in a clump.
  • Broad/fave beans are an exception because they ‘tiller’, making many stems from one seed, so they are best sown as single seeds.
  • Parsnips and carrots grow best from direct sowing, in terms of making a long, non-forked tap root. Nonetheless you can transplant them, and carrots are feasible in clumps.

My suggested numbers for great harvests

You can vary the numbers according to the size of vegetable you want. Only do not sow too many root vegetables in a clump, or you will have more leaf in proportion to root, meaning the roots will stay small.

  • For medium size plants and high yield, the first number is my suggestion for number of seeds to sow, per module.
  • The second number is how many plants can grow to a harvestable size in clumps, allowing for non germination of some seeds, and for multiple germination in the case of beetroot + chard.


Charles’ multisow veg Seeds per clump Desired plants per clump
Basil 3 or 4 2 or 3
Beetroot 4 4
Chard for salad/ to cook 4/2 3-5/1-2
Chervil, coriander, dill, parsley 3 2
Fennel, Florence 3 1 or 2
Kale for salad 4 3
Leek 5 or 6 2 to 4
Onion for bulbs 6 or 7 4 or 5
Onion for salad 8 or 10 6 or 8
Oriental leaves to cook 2 1
Oriental leaves for salad 4 3
Peas for pods 2 or 3 1 or 2
Peas for shoots 4 or 5 3 or 4
Radish 5 or 6 4 or 5
Rocket, salad and wild 3 or 4 2 or 3
Spinach for salad 4 3 or 4
Turnip 5 3 or 4


For further advice and information, have a look at my YouTube playlist, ‘Seeds, Sowing/Multisowing and Propagation‘, and this module from my ‘Skills for Growing’ online course, Seeds, sowing and planting’ – now available to purchase at half price for £13.


Your feedback

On my You Tube onion video, comment by Dylan Fogarty-MacDonald 11/08/18
Today I harvested my onions which I grew following this method. 36 modules, multi-sown with 8 seeds and we transplanted 20 modules. We harvested around 30 spring onions in May and today I harvested 98 mostly good sized onions (a few small ones amongst the plump ones). Happy about this as it was grown in such a small space and gave us multiple harvests through the season. Thanks Charles!

228 thoughts on “Multisowing

  1. will my multisown Kohlrabi work? or should i have thinned them before transplanting the seedlings?

    Many thanks.

    1. Multisown kohlrabi can work but it’s not in my experience the most efficient use of space. You can get say two small to medium ones as opposed to one large one, sometimes with less harvest from having more plants. I would thin them even now.

  2. Hey Charles, aren’t you multisowing French beans? I think you mentioned it somewhere but in your list above they don’t appear. Thanks for clarifying and greets from Belgium, Sabine

    1. You can, it’s an option.
      I am not recommending it because picking the beans is easier when you have just one plant per station.

  3. Hello Charles – Do you not multisow swedes? Is there a reason for this? I think I have seen in your garden tour videos they are usually singles, so do you treat them more like other large brassicas and sow in a seed tray and prick to a module tray? Cheers!

    1. I grow them as singles because I want large ones. You could multisow if you are happy with smaller swedes

  4. I have hardly any feeling in my thumb/fingertips so have great difficulty sowing singles! I’ve perhaps been overzealous in separating my seedlings when I plant out. Nevertheless, raddish, coriander & spring onions have been my Nodig successes I’d failed on before!

  5. Hi Charles,

    I eventually managed to aquire a number of the CD60 trays last summer and found them really first class.
    I think you mentioned in one of your videos that you were going to see how they would work out for multisowing.
    I wondering if I could multi sow Spring Onions, 8 – 10 seeds per cell, in them.


    1. Since Charles isn’t replying I’ll do so in his stead: yes, that works fine, be sure to plant them out within 3-4 weeks as the seedlings will quickly exhaust the nutrients in the small cells. For this reason you could also use a tray with a larger cell volume (50ml) than the CD60 (20ml).

  6. Hi Mr. Dowding my name is Luke Rowe and I live in New York USA. I just want to thank you for all you do.. you’re so very helpful and insightful. I made a wooden dibber out of a shovel handle today and it will work great… it is an inspiration from you. Thank you thank you thank you…
    Sincerely LGRowe

    1. How lovely and thanks for writing Luke, I’m touched by your appreciation and wish you success with your creation! It is empowering to make things 😀

      1. Charles, I think Luke’s comments reflect how most of your “followers” feel…so it’s a thank you from me too!
        Regards, Steve, Worcestershire

  7. Charles,
    Have you ever heard of multi sowing peppers (capsicum)? Is that something you would recommend trying? I’ve heard of gardeners sowing and planting 2 plants together.

    1. Hello Katie,
      You can multisow anything but it’s more about how they grow and how you can look after them.
      Peppers need a reasonable amount of space to grow nice sized fruits. so I see no advantage in doing this. Even it could get difficult with training and then picking.

      1. I multisow tomatoes (same family) for redundancy rather than to grow them on as two plants on a cell/pot. I keep meaning to sacrifice the weaker one but my optimism in how much greenhouse space I have takes takes over. The roots are easily taken apart o ne can put up two young plants. I guess it might work with chillies but some varieties are quite expensive so I stick to one per cell.

    2. Katie, I accidentally multisowed some bell type peppers last year among my singles. I opted not to thin them, and therefore had a good comparison for the peppers. Charles is right that these plants need more space. All the plants that were doubled grew smaller and produced less.

  8. Hi Charles,

    Planning on growing corn salad (lamb’s lettuce) this fall; curious if you multisow seeds for this type of salad yourself? My thought was sowing single plants in module and planting out with a fairly tight (3″) spacing.

    Thank you as always for your guidance and inspiration!
    Brooklyn, NY

    1. Hi Chris, yes indeed, singles work well for easier harvesting. Even 2″ is possible.
      I wish you a fine harvest.

  9. Hi Charles, when multi-sowing do we need to increase the spacings that you give in your books – or in the case of other varieties / crops, that seed companies provide on their packets? If so, is there a rule of thumb you use?

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Ian, I thought I give spacings for multisown in books, otherwise increase about one third, but no hard and fast rule as it depends what size harvests you wish for

          1. I wonder if it is possible to multisow curly kale? Do you transplant the 3-clump seedlings also? Or separate them.

          2. You can for sure.
            Whether or not you do this, depends whether you want smaller or larger kale leaves to harvest.
            We multisow kale when growing it for salad, and prick it out when wanting kale leaves to cook

  10. HI Charles,

    I am about to raise Asparagus plants from seed – would you reccomend multi-sowing them?

    Many thanks

  11. Hello Charles, thank you so much for changing my whole mindset towards gardening- I have just ordered the first of you books on the back of you excellent YouTube content. I am looking to sow hardy Sprouting broccoli for late harvests here in east Ireland (roughly same climate as HA) . We often see beautiful sprouting broccoli in the background of your videos at Homeacres but I haven’t seen any methods of growing it- I may have missed it. Any advice? Can it be multi-sown?

  12. I wonder if its possible to multisow long beetroot? (not rounded type)

    Thanks for all of your advices! Have learned a lot from you. Greatings from Stockholm Sweden

  13. Hi Charles,
    I just bought your book and am devouring it. We are trying no dig this year! For radishes, can you multisow directly in the ground rather than starting in seed modules? I already did this, sowing about 3-4 radish seeds spaced apart hoping to get the same result as you do when doing seed trays. Will this work or have I made a mistake? Thanks so much!

    1. Nice to hear, and yes you can do that. On the other hand, the reason for using trays under cover is for earlier germination and less pass damage.

  14. Charles, many thanks for all the advice; I have your Winter Veg book + 2021 Calendar and thoroughly recommend. Quick question on spacing – rather than have single onions at (say) 10cm in rows 30cm apart, any reason why you can’t do 17cm x 17cm which gives each plant about the same area… and makes it easier to hoe in two criss-cross directions?! Or is there some air circulation benefit from traditional inter-row spacing?

  15. Thank you so much for your informative videos and posts! You make gardening so approachable, no-fuss, and above all, enjoyable. I used your no-dig method last year with great success, and I look forward to an even better second year. God bless you and your garden! 🙂

  16. Hi Charles,
    I was learning about regenerative farming when I found your videos and website. I had wanted to get back into vegetable gardening and the idea of no-dig sounded perfect for my clay bound property in Pennsylvania, USA. I have set up the beds and started sowing my seeds indoors. I had never heard of “pricking out ” seedlings before and was excited to try it. My first batch was a tray of rapini (broccoli raab) ans some leaf lettuce. I did them yesterday and put the cell tray under some grow lights. They have already grown some more today! I sowed my leeks in trays, meaning to prick them out into cells but then I see that I could have multi-sown them. Is it possible that I could prick out and plant 3 leek seedlings into each module, or will they not have a good chance of survival?
    PS Love your books as well. They are a wealth of knowledge! Thanks.

    1. Nice to hear Lynn and yes you can prick out the leek seedlings, I’m happy you are finding the information useful

    2. Hi Lynn,

      I sowed onions and leek from seed and had some cells where only one came up. I pricked them all out and transplanted them in little clumps a week ago and they are thriving.

      Anita, gardening near Rochester NY, also on clay soil in raised beds

      1. Hi Anita,
        Thanks for your reply. I had some success with my leeks as well. They are coming along slowly but look healthy. Fingers crossed!
        I don’t think my potting compost was that great as all my seeds sown in trays, although quick to sprout, have grown quite slowly.

          1. Erin, on behalf of Lynn.
            “Prick out” means transplanting two leaf seedlings (i.e. v small), usually from seed tray to module cells, in a propagation space.

  17. Hi Charles, love your videos. I’m doing a no dig allotment this year which I share with my mum. I’ve convinced her no dig works.
    Looking forward to hopefully changing some opinions of my neighbouring allotments too.

    I don’t see much about multi “sowing” or planting onion sets. We are limited in what we can grow from seed this year and we already have onion sets. I wondered whether it’s possible to grow onions sets in clumps? You’ve suggested in videos to plant onion sets after the last frost to help onions not flower. Love to know your thoughts on multi planting onion sets. I am however multi sowing shallots from seed. I hope they work somewhat the same as onions. If goes well then I will plant all my onions from seed next year,

    Last year I made a lot of my own compost which was very enjoyable and cost saving for spreading for this new growing season. Is there any composting ingredients you suggest adding to make my compost more nutritious?

    Thank you for all your very well explained videos and passing on your knowledge. It’s all very much appreciated, I share your name and videos with every green thumbed person I know!

    1. Cheers Joshua, and you could add some bass salt rock dust to a compost heap. For onion sets you may as well just plant them very close, because you are handling each one individually, unlike seeds which one sows in a clump

  18. Hi Charles,
    I’ve been a double digger bio – intensive Gardner for decades, man it is so labor intensive. I’ve been convinced by your channel to give it s go this year, thank you for your generosity of sharing your experiences and knowledge.

    I start seedlings in soil blocks 3″ x 3″ are you familiar with these? With these you don’t cover the seeds , just drop into an indentation and off they germ and grow. Do you think I can multi – sow in this type of seed start method?

    Love your videos as they and you are such encouragement to keep us covering the earth with food, herb, and flower.

    Cheers and Green Blessings

    1. I am happy to hear this Rodney and I’m always intrigued by that term, bio intensive! For me it does not quite make sense because so much about the double digging is not helping biology!

      Yes I like using blocks and multisowing works very well with them. The reason I do not use them is because of time needed to make the mix, and fitting them into my propagation space. Your 3 x 3″ blocks sound pretty large so you need quite a bit of space.
      I wish you success with no dig!

  19. Thank you for the wealth of expertise you share so freely! I’ve recently received a copy of your calendar and diary and I’m loving them. I’ve caught up on some sowing as per your recommended dates and things are looking great so far. I have some multisown spinach on the go for salad,amongst other things. Would you multisow perpetual spinach as well?

    1. Nice to hear Marizel.
      You can actually multisow any vegetable, the question is what size harvest you want?
      So for your perpetual spinach, you can have either many small leaves or fewer larger leaves. My preference is one or two plants per clump or ‘station’.

  20. Charles, You were recently going to trial peas in the CD60 trays. I was just wondering if you have come to any conclusions and how many seeds did you sow in each cell?
    Many thanks.

    1. Mike, I was unlucky in my trial to use that first batch of Moorland Gold which resulted in poor germination. I have the impression that the peas do need a little more space.

      1. I multi sowed 3 peas into the container wise deep 28 cell module trains. They filled that quite happily with beautifully straight roots and are nice strong plants out in the garden (thanks to watching your videos!). I’ve got a tiny garden so the 28 & 40 cells easily cover my needs with only 6 trays and staggered sowings.

  21. Hi Charles,

    Thanks for all the amazing information you provide! With multisown leeks, when would you say is a good time to transplant them into the garden? Should They reach a certain level if maturity or should I time transplanting according to last frost, or both? Thank you!

    1. Hi Kristina, any time is possible but later often succeeds better.
      I sow mine early April.
      If you sowed already, that was early, yes wait until cold nights are over

      1. Thank you! Your advice comes right on time. I haven’t sown them yet but was about to. I’ll wait until April!

  22. Hi Charles. I am using “square foot gardening” technique so planting density is relatively high. Would you still advocate multi-sowing for that or would it simply be too crowded? Thanks

    1. Hi Ian, it makes no difference because you would have the space to say one multisown clump of a beetroot in the middle of your square foot, rather than four singles, or whatever the recommended spacing is

  23. Hiya, thank you for this amazing post 🙂 I’m definitely trying multi sowing this year. Can corn be multisown?

  24. Hi Charles,

    and thanks for the nice table, which gives a quick overview on clumps. Is there a further table of corresponding spacing between the clumps? I’m a bit unsure about it, while I tend to plant too narrow. I would maybe double the space of the regular plant spacing but keep the normal row spacing (by feeling)…

    Best regards from Germany


  25. hi charles can i just say you are an inspiritaion i have watched all your videos over several years and finally this yeah have gone for nodig i am lucky enought to have sourced spent old compost from unsold plants etc from a nursery have layd card on soil at my allotment and it instantly looks better and now i dont need to dig and break up clods of soil it seems very spongey and light my questin is i am planting peas for pods in old guttering to germinate in greenhouse can these be planted in compost no dig area for growing as some guys from allotments say they could cause to much nitrogen.
    thanks charles keep up great work
    with kindest regards

    1. Good to read this Craig.
      “Old guys at the allotment”, they dig, what do they know?!!
      They believe in fertiliser, love synthetic nitrogen!
      Compost works differently, feeds slowly and as plants need to feed, it will be fine.

  26. Hi Charles! I’d like to try multi sowing some root crops this year but beetroot has me confused. Typically a beetroot seed will produce several beets. Are you putting multiple seeds in each module then or just one or two and counting the multiples they make as seeds?

    Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Good point.
      I so four seeds and thin excess seedlings to leave four strong ones. Some seeds grow more than one seedling and some do not germinate!

    2. Thank you for that question Laura! It’s exactly what I was looking for on this thread. Thank you Charles for all the information you provide.

  27. Hi Charles, Can Shallot seeds be multi sown? I just last night separated them into individual 4″ cow pots due to the fact that will be staying indoors for 12 weeks and now have lost considerable.

        1. Hello – when using your multisowing table above, what size cells are you using? Is the CD 60 module tray ok to use for all multisowing?
          Thank you!

          1. Hi Rosie, it depends partly how large you want transplants to be.
            I use the CD60for all except peas, and transplant quite small

          2. Thank you for your quick response!
            Do you then transplant straight into the ground as groups or are they potted on (as groups or individually) first?
            Also I am in East Scotland, can I follow your advice on when to sow in general? I realise with tender plants the last frost dates will be different but just in general.
            Thank you again!

  28. Dear Charles,
    I bought a house with a 6500 square metre meadow, which wasn’t using for growing in the last 10 years. I don’t use the whole ground, just start a little. So my meadow is resting for 10 years. On the meadow has a lot of grass and some wild plant like wild basil and some little plants. I would like to plant vegetables and make a “spice garden” with basil, thyme, oregano, marjoram…
    I don’t have compost to use for growing. I started to make 1 months ago, but maybe that will be okay for next year.
    My question is, Should I hack the ground? (I thinks of it, because my ground resting for 10 years?) Or just take some carton paper to the ground and take some soil from my garden? or What should I use ?
    I don’t have compost, Can I use my soil to plant my vegetables ?
    Please, help me 🙂
    kind regards, Kornel

    1. Yes Kornel, you can use just garden soil on cardboard to grow vegetables. However it’s a lot more difficult, thanks to weed seeds in the soil for example, and fewer harvests per time invested.
      Compared to the cost of a house, the investment in compost would be very small and I reckon very worthwhile. Just spread 3cm on the cardboard if that is your limit.
      Or 10cm on just a small area.
      And good luck.

  29. Worked great for me this year! Is this info in a book or chart somewhere? While I usually have my phone anyway it probably would be easier if I could just print off a chart to bring with me.

  30. I tried multi sowing for the first time this year with Onions, Turnips, Peas, Leeks and Beetrot. The Onions peas and leeks were great, however my Beetroot and turnips were very poor. They hardly grew at all and were very small.

  31. Will be giving this a try with my fall planting. This is perfect for my hot, dry area where I water via drip tubing. The tubing typically has emitters at 6” or 12” spacing so it makes it far easier to space out clumps at the emitter spacing when you have items typically planted 2-3” apart in rows.

  32. Charles,

    You are a massive inspiration. I’m a recently retired constructor with many years of almost random vegetable gardening. Having your great videos and other information has given us huge increases of output from the same raised beds with less and usually more enjoyable time & effort. What a legacy you are building!

  33. Charles, Thank you so much for all of your content and learning materials that you put out there. You are a Saint.
    So correct me if I am wrong with the root crops…if they produce a long thinner root (such as carrot) then they should be direct sewn in garden and thinned out? So I would also put Burdock & Salsify in the category with carrots and parsnips.
    And then the more rounded bulb like root crops like rutabaga and turnips can be multi-sewn like beetroot?

    Thanks so much.

    1. Thanks Meghan and yes that is it.
      The ‘long thin roots’ are tap roots which often fork after a transplant.

  34. Do you multi sow kale? I saw this in the table but don’t see that in practice on your videos.

    Look forward to your response.

    Love your work!


    1. Thanks and yes Romeo for salad leaves, so they grow smaller.
      For large leaves to cook, one plant works well.

  35. Hi Charles,
    You mean I DON’T have to separate and plant all those tiny onions, spring onions, beetroot….. ? Life changing! I usually put off planting them it’s so tedious. I had already separated and planted the brown ones but was dragging my feet on the red ones (I live in Western Australia). The red ones were in in about 2 minutes flat!
    I’ve had this happen with a Daikon radish that self sowed in groups – works really well.
    Thank you,

  36. Charles, how about celery? I am presuming no and that these should be pricked out into single plants? Many thanks

      1. Hi Charles, great website! What number of modules would you recommend for veg like Cabbage, Beetroot & Spinach? I can see on containerwise they have 28s, 40s or 77s. Not sure which is best to allow the plant to mature enough before planting outside.

      2. May I add, I do multi-sow celery since they are such a pain to prick out! It does produce thinner stalks and the celery will not look like the ones in stores. It depends how you use your celery: for me it is mostly to add flavour to soups, stews and salads. One or two large pick-as-I-need clumps of four or five plants are usually enough to last until spring. If you want tall and juicy stalks though, pricking out is the way to go.
        Many thanks for all the generous info, Charles. Your website is joyful!
        Cheers, Maaike

  37. Hi Charles, I have almost completed course 1 and 2. I have a small/med size potager garden with three raised beds which I have instinctively done no dig and two new beds created from instructions on your course. All are 4′ wide and vary from 5 to 7 feet long. Four have arches in the back of the beds to grow beans, cucumbers, patty pan squash and peas. The most predominate veg I grow are tomatoes as I harvest, cook for sauce and freeze. The beds are all South/South west facing and sheltered so ideal for tomatoes. I have been growing veg for five years in these beds and this year, due to being home more as a result of Covid and also inspired by your course, growing a much larger variety of veg. Worried that I might not have enough space! Can you grow young celery, celeriac and purple sprouting broccoli plants in amongst the tomatoes that I have spaced 9″ apart and 18″ spaced rows?

    1. Nice to hear Katherine and I am happy you are thinking creatively.
      Celeriac needs a long season, full space and moisture but celery is smaller so yes for that, from sowing say mid June, transplant early August and it won’t grow enormous.
      Broccoli I am not sure, unless your tomatoes finish by say end September, sow broccoli early July, transplant August, it will be tight!

  38. Hello Charles,
    Thank you for sharing your gardening wisdom with us. As a beginner gardener I found your videos very helpful and inspiring.
    I like the guidance table on multisowing (above). Could you please also add a column on how far apart to plant the clumps? I noticed other people are also looking for guidance on that so a printable sheet would be amazing and probably would save you replying to the same questions .
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Eva, thanks for your comment, and there are just a few things I don’t give here and spacings is a big topic, covered in my books and course 2. Plus I mention them a lot in monthly posts.

  39. Just a short note to tell you how you have inspired me to No Dig gardening!!!! I have learned so much from your website and You tube channel. My question is about hardwood compost/ mulch and chopped tree bark? Would that best be used for Paths over my cardboard? It is two years old or older and I have plenty. I am using mule manure compost and horse manure compost mixed with straw for my beds. What do you think? I love this raised garden technique!!!! God bless you and your family!

    1. Nice to hear Paul.
      The bed compost sounds good and yes the old wood is fine for paths,
      Here I use a that or equivalent in a layer no more than an inch, 2-3cm on paths, with no cardboard underneath.
      The cardboard is only needed if there are lots of weeds currently.

  40. When you transplant radish, beet, and kale before last frost, should you harden them off? Or is it ok not to if you put them under a row cover? This question is partly inspired by your multi-sowing radish youtube video where you mention not hardening off. My radishes would have been pampered by warmer temps during germinating and seedling stage (grown in doors, started with a heat mat).

  41. I am starting out for the first time a vegetable garden at a friend’s allotment. Your website and videos have been not only very informative but also hugely inspirational. Thanks!

    My first seeding tray of lettuce is coming along very well using your suggested mix of compost/vermicula. Should I use the same mix or just compost when preparing the trays for prickling?

    1. Good to hear this Diego, and use normal mix for growing on. Vermiculite is just to hold extra air around the fragile roos of tiny seedlings

  42. Every single time I try to grow onion and leeks from seeds, they germinate nicely, reach height of 15 cm (6 in.) and then stop growing. Is this a time they should be transplanted? Or perhaps I’m doing something wrong? I use various potting mixes and result is always the same.

    1. Hi Richard, and oh my word!! 15cm/6in is huge for transplants, especially of onions. I transplant at half that.
      Larger transplants run out of food and moisture, then take a long time to start growing again after planting.
      Exceptions are when you keep potting on as with say tomato and cucumber, But that would be expensive, time consuming and unnecessary for onions.
      For leeks it is often worth potting them on, if waiting for say potatoes to harvest.

  43. Hi Charles,
    Very useful post thank you! Would you multi-sow dwarf french beans in a similar way to peas? And plant out in clumps or is it better to separate them?
    Emma, UK

  44. Thanks for the info, will be trying this this year with beets and radishes in our small urban garden in zone 3 in Manitoba, Canada.

  45. Hello! After years of attempts for a fruitful garden, I found you on you tube then decided to take course 1 and 2. I started seedlings in the house but because we are on covid lockdown I am unable to get grow lights at this time and it has not been sunny at all here in Michigan. In the 30s and 40s. Not sure how to keep my seedlings going. At what temperature is it safe to put them outside without being in a greenhouse Or on top of a compost heap. Is the window sill on an overcast day enough light? Thank you so much. Your videos make me smile.

    1. Thankyou Nicole, and that sounds chilly.
      It depends on the seedlings but onion, lettuce spinach can survive cold like that.
      If growing long stems, they may be better in their trays on the compost heap!
      I hope you like the courses, and wish you warmth soon.

  46. Cannot believe you take the time to graciously comment on all of these questions! I hope someone is helping you with that. Thank you for all your hard work, the free information, and the reasonably priced information. Much love!

  47. Hi Charles,
    I have some onions and shallot sets, can I multi sow these in clumps of 3/4?
    Would you plant directly?
    Cheers in advance

    1. Either is good David but on the whole, I prefer singles. Sets are “part-grown” plants so the seedling-proximity aspect is kind of lost.
      And shallots do the multi-grow part from one bulb.

  48. Hello Charles,

    One more big thank you for the inspiration and knowledge you provide.

    Do you think there’s any point multi planting onion sets?

    All the best,


    1. Cheers Colin, and not especially as they are not seedlings, but you can! Or just plant say 50% closer than normal.

  49. Sorry Charles, forgot to ask also how many seeds you would suggest sewing in clumps for radish, carrot and parsnip (if you would suggest clumping parsnips that is).

    Thanks again

    Ian Morris

  50. Hi Charles, very inspired by your approach, videos and now book that I have. Would you be able to share whether you would suggest multi-sowing either pak choi, broccoli or sprouts, and if so some guidance on how many seeds per clump?

    Many thanks

    Ian Morris

    1. Thanks Ian and multisowing is for vegetables you want more than one of – so not Brussels and broccoli.
      Or sow just two seeds and thin to the strongest.
      Pak choi can grow in a clump of 2 or 3 but is harder to pick leaves from, better then for cutting.

  51. Hi Charles, I’m getting so much useful information from your website, YT videos and books. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge in such a clear, detailed and generous way. I already have Winter Vegetables and the Veg Journal. I’m particularly Interested in the multi sowing method and want to know more about spacing. Do you have plans to make the No Dig Home and Garden book available as an ebook? I prefer ebooks because I can take my tablet out into the garden with my garden plan and all the books at my fingertips ready for reference.

    1. Hi Helen
      Thanks, nice to hear this.
      It’s up to the publishers, Permanent, whether it becomes an ebook.
      If you do social media, put up a request and tag them.
      And for online, my online course 2 has all that information, do mail me about it via Contact.

  52. Charles,
    Thank you for your reply! I would really love to own one of your dibbles. I have studied it and your use of it and find it is quite useful. I am not mechanically inclined however, I thought I could fashion one from an old broken garden tool handle but most are straight and would not give you the torque necessary to create holes. And to round off the bottom who has a lath hanging around to make it round and smooth. I have searched the internet and no one comes near the simplicity and effectiveness of your dibble! I am also interested in your calendar. You presented one of the pages of the calendar and the picture looks great! Was your objective to give people a visual snap shot that they themselves can do? Your thoughts!

    Again, Thank you for your time!

    1. Yes the calendar is exactly that, a visual prompt and with date reminders.
      Sorry we don’t have time to ship the dibber to you.

  53. Dear Charles , I am very inspired by your no dig garden ,tools ,techniques and garden wisdom. I live in zone 5 USDA. I was wondering I wish to re-do my garden using your methodology. I have a scattering of native plants, roses, fruit trees, perennial and annual flowers. I am very much like to try the no dig along with using, wood chips and using the ” winter sowing” ( in milk jugs for some plants . Especially the roses!!! Do you recommend that I remove the plants that I wish to keep, placing them in pots temporarily and continue with the compost-cardboard-manure to create the new garden bed? Can I multisow seeds in the smallest soil block? Where if possible would and do you use wood chips in the garden? What are your thoughts. Also in your video featuring two ways to start a new bed you used a type of plastic-” polyproplene” you called it( Sorry about the miss spelling ). What would you call that in the States? It was used as an barrier under squash plants. I want to send you a million thank you’s for your vast and humble knowledge of being such a great steward of the plant kingdom.

    Much Gratitude

    1. Thanks Joyce.
      I do not use woodchip for vegetables, except it’s possible for perennials, and roses etc.
      No need to remove pllants before mulching unless you have many invasive perennial weeds, so need to cover 100% eg with cardboard.
      Just black plastic can serve, it’s cheaper and must be opaque to light.
      Small multisow seeds can start in small blocks.
      Go well!

  54. In your suggestions above you write, e.g. onions for bulbs, to sow 6-7 seeds per clumps in order to have 4-5 plants per clump. Does that mean you don’t expect all the seeds to germinate, or do you remove extra seedlings if too many do germinate?
    I had some success with multi-seeding last year and would really like to do more this year, it does save a lot of space, so thanks so much for sharing the concept with us.

    1. Thanks Helle and yes it’s mainly a question of germination.
      If they all germinate, you can pull any little ones soon after emergence to have 4-5 per cell.

  55. Thank you Charles for all your wisdom. I’m transforming to a no dig garden and am happy to say that your methods are starting to work here in Southern Oregon, USA (I’m an ex-pat).

    One question though. Would parsnips work in a multi-sow environment? I’m thinking maybe not as they need the longer root. Have you tried them this way? I might experiment this year, some multi-sown and some not. What do you think?

    Thanks you again so much

    1. Thanks Penelope and for parsnips + carrots it depends what you want.
      Unless you plant them when really tiny, the tap root will have split or forked before transplant stage.
      You will still have parsnips or carrots to eat, mostly short and fat.
      I advise to sow direct because with no dig and sowing seeds into surface compost, germination is so much better than from sowing seeds into dug soil. And weeds are less, so it’s easy to wait the three weeks before seeing parsnips, without them being lost in weed growth.
      My only parsnip failure was from a pack of Kings Seeds which must have been old when packeted. It was bought that winter but there was 90% failure, compared to near 100% success of different seed in the next bed, sown at the same time.

    2. I’ve seen a few posts now from people on the west coast of the USA particularly Oregon. Is there a way to allow people to communicate and perhaps share experiences. Is there a forum of any kind?
      I too am an expat living in S Oregon in the high desert.

      1. Hi Richard
        You can reply to them.
        We had a forum but it was so, so attacked by spammers that we had to close it.

  56. Hi Charles, I wanted to thank you for the work that you do and for putting this information out into the world!! We very much appreciate your help and experience. I have now all no-dig beds and am looking forward to trying multi-sowing this year. When you do the pricking out method, how do you know when the seedlings are strong enough to transplant into modules but not so far along that the roots get tangled up?

    1. Hello Tania, good to hear of your progress.
      Prick out when the two cotyledon leaves are well grown but before you see the first true leaf.
      So at two leaf stage, use a pencil to lift roots gently while pulling the leaves as well.

  57. Hi Charles,

    Thank you for sharing your wealth of gardening wisdom!

    One of my favourites is pea shoots, and I’m now just thinking of growing specifically for that. I’m wondering if there is a type of pea that provides better shoots for eating than others. I did try growing some with the peas I have for pea soup, but the shoots were too things and had way too many tentacles to make for a nice meal.

    Thank you and have a lovely day!

    1. Gertrude
      Nice to hear and yes I agree, too many tendrils on those.
      Sow any tall pea, say 75cm plus, so you have more stem and leaf.
      Tall Sugar and Alderman are excellent but perhaps hard to buy,
      Or Oregon Sugar Pod.

      1. Thank you Charles! I will do just that.

        I have one more question if you don’t mind.
        Many of your multi-sown veggies are rounded root vegetables. Have you tried multi-sowing kohlrabi? Or is my logic off there?

  58. Hi charles
    How are you
    In terms of my condition of place with 4 cents this type of no dig formula which is correct to me exactly and that green grass around side ways are enormous.

    Thank you for that

  59. I multi-sowed swiss chard, beetroot, turnip, lettuce & leeks. I then proceeded to plant them crowded together in a raised bed of about 2 sq.m at the same time in Apr 19! I did harvest some swiss chard before it bolted and some other good vegetables, but I will space correctly for better results next year. Thanks for the advice!

    1. There is always next year!
      I recommend waiting until early May before sowing chard, to reduce summer bolting.

  60. Just wondering if there a benefit of multisowing climbing beans. I am going to start some bean seedlings in the greenhouse as its too cold wet and windy here at the moment (plus the position for planting isn’t free quiet yet)

  61. Dear Charles, many thanks for your great advices. About to multysaw beetroot in a small backyard in Sarajevo. Fond Greetings from Bosnia.

  62. Hi

    I have just multi sown some beetroot. Can you tell me when they are planted out, what plant spacing to use? Will the spacing need to be larger with multi sowing?

    Thank you.

  63. I was given your name by a young market gardener here on Vancouver Island. I am in a town lot and I am trying to establish new beds over a lawn using your methods. So far the results are terrific. We have had many salads so far this spring and beneath them are potatoes, between the early covered cabbage are onions planyed in clusters and the current garden awaits new starts (in my spare bedroom) I overplanted my seedlings of peas, melons, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, celery, radish, corn….and more….so I share the spoils with work mates and tell them to follow your videos and to buy the calendar which I bought and used. I will delay the date by a week or so next spring. Thank you for your advice. And thanks to the young market gardener for letting me know about you!

  64. Hi Charles,

    I have been gardening for years the “old fashioned” way, but find as I’m getting older that it is just too labor intensive. Then I discovered you and it all made perfect sense and I’m already having great results – tons of multi-sown radishes just about ready to harvest. Thank you for the lovely videos with clear instructions. Just wish I were in UK so I could attend one of your classes.

  65. Thanks to the blog post.
    I search for “multi sowing” after watched your propagation (2) video on youtube and google send me here 🙂
    Big thanks for your great videos, they made me a better gardener 🙂

  66. Hi Charles
    I’m having a serious go at vegetable growing this year and can’t wait to try this method with beetroots, spring onions and some herbs!
    Unrelated to veggies, but can you use this multi sowing method with any flower seed? I have DOZENS of seed packets I’ve collected over the last couple of years and would like to use up a significant chunk, whilst still getting successful flowers..
    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    1. Hi Jo and yes you can, but tailored to how you want to grow and pick them, so numbers will vary for every flower you grow, try a few things

  67. Hi Charles,

    Thanks so much for all your work, and the idea of multisowing, I think it’s really going to transform our growing this year!

    I had a question about carrots. Our soil is very clay rich and sow we’ll be doing the parisian type, the small balls, and I wondered if you had any experience with them using this technique, or if you had any thoughts around whether it would work?


      1. They’re lovely and do work in clay-rich soil. You do need a lot of compost though or they just end up very small. Follow all the usual advice. They can get up to ping pong size! I do think you get so much less carrot for the effort so in our garden they actually belong to my son because it’s quite fun.

  68. Any thoughts on mustard greens for desired clumping or possibly like lettuce a green that prefers a single cell to itself?

  69. Hi Charles

    We have the diary and the create a veg garden books (and calendar). You seem to suggest multi sow spinach in the late winter/spring but only have one to plant out (sow 2, thin to 1) when planning to over winter. Is that correct?

    We can’t say how much of an inspiration you are to us. Old raised plastic beds repositioned and made hugels (not your subject) and whole swaths of garden down to black plastic! First greenhouse, boundry refenced and hedging planted, polytunnels to come, micro greens growing, early veg seed sown indoors and square foot no dig going to be tried in the hugels whilst we wait for the black plastic to do it’s stuff 🙂 Not sure how woodlice wil be in a hugel but here’s to the learning !

    1. Great you are trying so many things Deborah.
      Yes the overwintered spinach makes sideshoots and becomes multiheading in many cases.

  70. Hi Charles, I’ve got your calendar which I’m following to the letter and your book which is on my bedside table. Looking forward to see how my veg patch unravels! I only have budget for one and wanted to ask your views: should I go for the online course or your one day at Homeacres? I wish I could do both but this year I can only afford one. I already know what Santa’s letter will say this year though !

    1. Thanks Bea nice to hear, and best go for whichever course you most want to do – each will offer lots of help, in different ways

    2. Hi Bea. I have just finished Charles’ online courses (both) and I found them really instructive. The quizzes at the end are genuinely taxing and doing them helps to fix the information in your memory (and the lessons are there for you to use afterwards). I would also like to visit Homeacres, but I find that I have gained so much confidence through knowledge from the courses. I really recommend them.

  71. Hi Charles,

    I learnt so much last year from your YouTube channel and had a few successes. I’m hoping for better this year and bought your Diary. However, I was hoping for a bit more handholding for each veg type, spacing, and succession in particular. I always felt behind last year and didn’t get things in to overwinter. What book do you recommend? Is the No Dig Home & Garden book more appropriate for my needs? I have a shady garden, and things like Multisown radish, beets and turnips didn’t come to much, but I discovered the radish flowers and seeds were fab and the greens were very welcome. So as a side note, does the cookery book I’ve seen you promote cover eating all the bits of the crops, like radish seed heads and turnip greens for example? Keep up the excellent work!

    1. Hi Susan, nice you are going for it and year one can be tricky. A shady garden means probably tree roots are pulling moisture away from your vegetables. You need beds that are not close to trees. Some shade is not bad of itself.
      My Organic Gardening book has specific details for most veg, Steph’s cookery book concentrates on main veg, some tips on those fringe harvests!

  72. Can the multi sowing method be used on ordinary veg beds (not no dig). Just discovered your video and learning loads.

  73. Giving us directions about the number of plants per station is very important.
    It is incomplete however at least to my opinion.
    There should be another column with the minimum distance between the stations since the distances will grow now that we have more than one plant per station.
    For example, what would be a good distance between multisown leek stations?

    1. I agree it is not complete Apostolos. I need scope to sell some information, and you sound ungrateful for all the free advice here. Why not watch my Leeks video (free) and I show the spacing there.

      1. Charles, I did not think about the selling potential so you are probably right at what you say.
        No intention to sound ungrateful. Far from it.
        It just did not occur to me what you just pointed out.

          1. Kia ora Charles, I wanted to say that your Course 2; Growing success, was wonderful. I worked on it each evening during July, and passed, but I have to review lots of the info because the course is PACKED with info!!I would recommend this course to everyone interested in increasing their vege gardens yield. Soo much satisfaction harvesting salad leaves during our winter here in New Zealand.

  74. Hi,

    Is it for beetroot better to use 4 seeds, or maybe just 2 because mostly 2 plants comes out of 1 seed.
    Don’t they get problems after all because its a root vegetable?
    I have a lot of perspex trays ready to use for it.
    Greets from the Netherlands!

    1. Yes Robert but some seeds don’t germinate, and 4 means occasional thinning to 4 or 5 plants, with all modules full.
      Beetroots are actually swellings of the stem above actual roots.
      Have fun with sowing.

  75. Parsnip multisowing: after last year’s dismal failure with direct sowing (too wet then too hot!) I’m having a crack at multisowing parsnips (4 per cell) – any comments or tips gratefully received!

    1. Hmm too wet should not happen with mulched no dig beds. Mine came up well from 1st April sowing.
      Multisown parsnips need planting when v small before tap root reaches the bottom & forks.

  76. Should you leave more space between clumps than you would between single plants (thinking specifically of onions, but curious about other veggies too)? Thank you!

  77. Thanks Charles, much appreciate this information. In terms of growing medium, I notice in your YT videos you often sow into your homemade compost and sometimes into MP compost. Does this depend on how hungry the plants are? In case of homemade compost, I suspect this has to be very well aged?
    Best regards,

    Gabor, Hemel Hempstead

    1. Hi Gabor
      I mostly use bought MP compost because it’s so much quicker, not needing to sieve, and mostly as you say, one does not have enough old compost!

    1. Charles, I’ve just watched a video on multi sowing & you mention a link to a module seed tray company called “4tl”(?). I cannot find the link on your website as I want to invest in some quality module trays rather than the flimsy ones. Can you help please?

        1. Hello Charles, thank you very much – from France – for the high quality content you offer. Could you please indicate us if the 77L tray is more suited for some vegetables than others?

          1. Thanks Christophe, and most vegetables in fact. Small modules often work better than larger one.

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