One of the key things that you soon learn about growing your own food is that you should sow "little and often". What I mean by this is that with a little bit of forward planning you can stagger the crops you have ready for picking. This is especially important as the season goes on into late summer. If you're not careful you'll have no space for a quick crop before winter sets in.
As an example have a look at these two pictures from our cornwall garden.
I planted a small bed of mixes lettuce leaves in March, and look at them by the end of April, and we've already had 3 meals out of them, without making a dent. This bed is less than 1 square metre, only 1/2 planted and it's going to keep 2 of us in Lettuce for months ! What I did was just sow the seeds onto the soil, and then after around 3 weeks thinned them out and moved the thinnings into the first half of the bed, spaced well out. So what we have now is a very overcrowded area ideal for cutting as required, and the front half I'm going to let grow bigger.
The next bed is for broadbeans, which I started back inOctober last year, from the previous crops saved seeds. They overwintered really well, and were flowering very early in the year. However I noticed that the early flowers don't seem to have turned into pods, maybe because of the lack of polinators ? Anyway, at the end of April there are lots of pods forming, so I'm looking forward to the first crop in a couple of weeks I reckon – absolutely delicious with our Fish Pie recipe.
I've already got some new broadbean seedlings coming through, so hopefully just as these are finishing off, I shouldn't have to wait long for my next crop.
The other advantage of this method is that you regularly get small areas of ground coming available for the next crop, so you can rotate several different crops over the year. Other crops that I grow like this are peas, dwarf french beans, Kale Black Tuscan ( one of our favourites) – in fact anything that grows fairly fast.