By Sylvain Picker
Ancient gardeners used quantities of seeds which would seem insane for modern gardeners.
For example, I have read in a gardening book from 1860 that to grow melons you could use up to 30 seeds planted in a groups (a mound or a “hill” in gardening parlance). To put things in perspective, a modern gardener using expensive hybrid seeds will use between 2 and 4 seeds for a hill. And if the modern gardener sees one of his little plants pass away, it's big drama sometimes.
In ancient times one of the basic principles of gardening was to thin seedlings.
As the plants grew, they removed the less beautiful ones to make room for the ones they preferred. In the case of melons they would only keep the 3–4 bests plants. It was expected that a percentage of plants and seeds would be eaten by birds or insects. In addition since the pollination was done by bees, they had to do some selection since the plants obtained had some variability. They where used to choosing the best plants, by thinning out the less desirable ones, usually when weeding or cultivating the soil.
When growing salad and greens, the thinnings where eaten.
Eating the small plants that are removed to make room for the others to grow is a very effective method for small gardeners. That way they can use all the space they have at their disposition. If you look at how Nature grows weeds, the soil is completely carpeted by small seedlings. But later in the season these plants get thinned by insects and other animals and become very big plants.
So I suggest that small gardeners carpet their soil with seeds. Like someone would grow micro sprouts but a little bit thinner. And instead of harvesting everything at the same time, gradually thinning the vegetables and eating the small ones before the others selected ones becomes big. Like it was done in the old times… Totally impossible to do for farmers, but the most efficient use of soil surface and solar energy when you think about it.
Here is an example with a sowing of a mixture of kales and Asian vegetables seeds on June 9 2020.
We got a first harvest on June 20. We were able to use these sprouts to garnish a recipe. Now it's starting to grow quickly.
The next day we get another harvest.