What's the proper way to thin seedlings? 🌱 🌱
THIS IS HOW TO "THIN" YOUR SEEDLINGS THE RIGHT WAY

This page should be read after reading:  Guide to Starting Seeds Indoors Starting your
seeds indoors is a great way to get a "jump start" on your garden.  By starting your seeds
indoors a few weeks before your last frost, you should have plenty of small seedlings ready
to be transplanted into your garden beds once planting season begins.

If, like most gardeners, you want to make sure to have good, full rows of plants, you will
probably want to thin at least some of your vegetables, flowers, and herbs. 


What is "thinning"? 

You prepare for thinning by planting seeds more densely (meaning closer together) than you
actually want your plants to grow. After the plants emerge from the soil, let them grow for a little while
(a week or two, for most crops), then pull up some of the plants such that the remaining plants
(the biggest, healthiest looking ones) are approximately the distance apart recommended.


Why thin? 

While you may think you don’t want to waste seeds, seeds are generally inexpensive. It’s much
better to plant seeds thickly and need to thin the resulting plants than to plant seeds far apart and
find that too few of them have germinated to give you the crop you want. 


Seeds also must literally push their way out of the soil. If you plant them close together, they help
each other with this sometimes very difficult task. 


In some cases, the plants that you pull out while you’re thinning can be transplanted elsewhere if desired. Broccolicabbagekale, and their relatives fit in this category, as do a variety of other plants. 

In other cases, the plants you pull out should just be added to the compost pile. Beetscarrotsparsnipscucumbersmelons, and squash are among the plants that cannot be pulled out and planted elsewhere. 

If you plant seeds densely, it is very important to make sure that you do thin the plants out. If you don’t, the plants will be too close together and will compete with each other for light, water, and nutrients. They will stay small and will not produce much of what you want (leaf, fruit, root, etc.). 

A variation on thinning is the planting of plants in a small, dense seedbed. If, for example, you want to create warm growing conditions for basilseedlings, you can plant 50 or 100 seeds very close together (say, in a square 60 cm/24 in on a side), then cover them with a cold frame (see season extension techniques) or a floating row cover. When the plants are about 10 cm (4 in) tall, you can dig them all up and transplant them into rows so they are about 60 cm (24 in) apart. Once they’re that big, they can live without the extra heat. 

Something similar is also commonly done for broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collards, and related plants. For these plants, the purpose of the cover is not extra heat but protection from flea beetles (see pests). The flea beetles can eat the very small seedlings to death, but not the larger transplants.

Click here to view all seed planting & spacing grow guides >

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published

FEATURED POSTS

VIEW ALL BLOG POSTS
The SECRET to getting more tomatoes on every plant

The SECRET to getting more tomatoes on every plant

Maybe it's time to give your tomatoes a little bit extra "care and encouragement", in the form of spanking them. Now, we're not endorsing plant abuse here by any means, but what we are suggesting is making sure that all of those tiny flowers get the proper pollination they need to produce fruit. 
How to Grow a Giant Pumpkin from Seed

How to Grow a Giant Pumpkin from Seed

If you’re planning on growing a GIANT pumpkin, keep in mind that you may need anywhere from 400 sq. ft. all the way up to 1200 sq. feet for just ON...
38 Edible Flowers To Plant In Your Garden

38 Edible Flowers To Plant In Your Garden

Nothing will impress your friends and family like sprinkling some colorful flowers into a salad, onto pastries or even as a garnish in their favorite drinks. Edible flowers will add a beautiful splash of color to many dishes and they are readily available, when you're growing them right in your own garden.
15 Herbs You Can Grow at Home To Make Your Own Tea

15 Herbs You Can Grow at Home To Make Your Own Tea

These 15 herbs will make a wonderful addition to your collection of "tea making supplies"!  Start curing your ailments naturally by growing your own herbal remedies. You can use them individually or mix and match to create unique tones and flavors that are suitable to your own liking. 
Your Guide to Gardening Through all 4 Seasons

Your Guide to Gardening Through all 4 Seasons

As the weather becomes consistently cold (in late October and early November, in the upper Midwest), you can work at preparing your garden for winter. There are several aspects to winter preparation.
How to Deal with Squash Bugs

How to Deal with Squash Bugs

Squash bugs can destroy crops and are quite the nuisance. Check your squash plants daily for signs of squash bugs and their eggs.   What to look...
How to Save 🍅 Tomato Seeds

How to Save 🍅 Tomato Seeds

There are several ways that you can save your heirloom tomato seeds, but here are two of the most popular techniques.  Fermentation Method: Choos...
How To Tell When 🍆 Eggplant Is Ripe

How To Tell When 🍆 Eggplant Is Ripe

One of the easiest ways to determine if they are ripe is to gently squeeze the eggplant. Once you release, the skins should "bounce back". If indentations remain, the fruit is not quite ripe yet. 
Prepare NOW for a garden in the fall!

Prepare NOW for a garden in the fall!

Summer will soon be over but having a thriving vegetable garden doesn't have to end when summer does. With a little bit of planning, and p...

SHOP OUR ENTIRE SEED CATALOG

Browse through hundreds of different varieties

📙 SEED CATALOG {A - Z}
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

ENTER THE SEED SHOP ❱

YOU RECENTLY VIEWED