Thinning Your Seedlings

Posted · 9 Comments


Good Morning Garden Soldiers!  It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted on my gardening series since I’ve been so busy in my own garden.  I’m happy to say, everything is sowed in the ground and in different stages of sprouts to harvest.

Thinning Seedlings

One of the most difficult things for new gardeners to comprehend is that it is essential to thin your seedlings.  Every year at my community garden, I see many newbies plant their seeds, watch them grow and then get disappointed by their yields.  The culprit… they did not thin their seedlings.

So what does thinning your seedlings mean?!

Thinning your seedlings simply means that you are cutting away all but one seedling per space that the vegetable needs to grow.  You see why this is difficult to comprehend for newbies?  When we see so many sprouts growing we assume that we should keep them all to increase our harvest.  However, this is far from the truth.  Every vegetable needs it’s space to grow.  It’s essential to thin your seedlings for healthy plant growth and development and believe it or not to maximize your crop production.

This becomes even more important when planting your root vegetables such as radishes, carrots, beets, turnips etc.  If too many seedlings are growing together the root is competing for space and nutrients.

Below is an example from my garden.

Before thinning my seedlings (radishes)

After thinning my seedlings

Tips for thinning your seedings

  • Identify the proper spacing for plants.  This can be found on all seed packages.
  • Pick the largest and healthiest seedlings to keep.
  • Wait to thin your seedlings until the first true sets of leaves appear.
  • For small seedlings, use scissors to cut away the seedlings you don’t want at the soil line.  This is important so you don’t disturb the roots of the seedling you want to keep.
  • Add more soil if roots are exposed

 So take a good look at your garden.  If you have any crowded seedlings, make sure to thin them out!

My next post in this series is going to be on disease, fungus and insects that can damage your crops including preventatives and treatments.  We are coming to that time of year where we may encounter some of this and the effects can destroy all of our hard work.

It’s been so much fun hearing how so many more foodies are growing our own food!  If you have any pictures of your thriving garden, please send me pics to diana (at) phileodesign (dot) com.  In the meantime check out newbie Miranda’s garden from My Food and Life Encounters!  Yeah… after looking at her pictures you wouldn’t think this was her first year!!  AMAZING!!!

Until then Garden Soldiers! Let’s Grow Our Own Food!

9 Responses to "Thinning Your Seedlings"
  1. Miranda says:

    Thanks Diana! For everything!!! All the great info from your fantastic site and the advice and tips!!!!

    You are the best!!!!!

  2. momgateway says:

    Hope you had a great time during your vacation. Yes,I'll be sending you my garden pictures. Hugs!

  3. Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal says:

    Diana that is such good info. I am also a newbie gardener and planting my first set of veggies. I will surely do this as I do see crowded plants and as you said, it doesn't yield what I think it should.

  4. Cristie says:

    Thanks for this post. I have lettuce that needs thinning today!

  5. Jessica says:

    Loved your post. The feeling of family that I saw in it was very clear. I have a friend who's of Spanish heritage, and her husband, as well, and she has told me many times of the festival that the small village she is from holds for senior citizens who turn 60 years old, I think? Anyway, the community sends gold plated invitations to everyone turning that certain age, and they have a banquet in their honor. Wish I could remember the name of that town.

    Anyway, it is delightful to see a culture take such pride in their older citizens, honoring them and respecting them for their contributions to society. American culture seems to have forgotten that. (and I am an American)

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful post!

  6. H. Kids says:

    The Thinning Seedlings is one of the most difficult things for new gardeners to comprehend. So be careful about that.

  7. Sustainable Eats says:

    Great post Diana – especially true with carrots and parsnips but not so much with turnips or beets as they grow above ground and will bump each other out of the way. However, if they are crowded it makes for a great leaf miner takeover which is what I have now. They are in my broccoli raab and my beets.

    You must not have a slug problem because I see your great leaf mulch – smart but I can't do that here in Seattle since it's continously moist. I have mulch envy!

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