Thinning down the herd…

Okay, at least for me, one of the hardest gardening tasks to bring myself to do is thinning seedlings.  Usually, the Jaws getting read to attack music goes through my head.  Dah dah….dah dah

Getting ready to thin down the seedlings

Dah dah..dah..dah…dah…dah dah….

Cutting extra seedlings at ground line with kitchen scissors

Dah dah dah dah dah

One seedling remains after thinning

Okay…I think you get the point.  🙂

To give an example of why I have trouble thinning.  A few years ago, I started some dwarf brandywine tomatoes from seed in a seed flat.  Usually, you thin down the seedlings to a few for proper spacing and then transplant the strongest. Well…lets just say that 20 tomato plants later.  I couldn’t bring myself to do it, but in the garden it is even more necessary since you won’t be transplanting the seedling like you do when growing in a seed flat.  The seeds I planted in the garden are growing so quickly.  Usually we say thin when the first set of true leaves appears.  What you see in the picture above are called cotyledons, not actually leaves.  But with the speed of growth, if I waited till the first set of true leaves, things would be very crowded.

When thinning, you choose the strongest, straightest seedling and remove the rest.  Some people will pull or pinch, but I prefer a sharp pair of clean scissors.  Just trim the seedlings you don’t want to keep at ground line. With scissors, yes you have to be careful so that you don’t nick the seedling you want to keep, but it also prevents you from disturbing the root system of the seedling you want to keep unlike if you pulled seedlings.  If you’ve planted in a row, thin down to the spacing listed on the seed packet.  Large seeds like green beans are easy to control spacing when planting the seeds, but seeds like carrots are so tiny and fine it’s hard to get control on spacing at planting.  With vegetables like carrots, thinning down to the correct spacing is important for proper growth.  Again, scissors are your friends, if you try to pull extra seedlings more often than not you end up disturbing the root system of those you want to keep.

So, when all is said and done, the only thing that I won’t have thinned down will be the green beans.  Everything else will have been thinned down.  Usually, you always plant more than one seed to ensure germination since germination is never 100%.

Cucumber seedlings

Okay, so the cucumbers had a really good germination rate.  These were thinned down as well.  Just to be safe since, I thinned down each cluster of cucumbers to 2 seedlings. Once I see how they are doing, I’ll thin it down to one.   I still need to develop a solid trellis system for the cucumbers since I want them to grow vertically to save some space. Growing crops like cucumbers vertically has a few advantages.  First off, it’s a space saver. Second, it helps keep cucumbers off the ground encouraging better veggie formation.

And a great example of something that desperately needs to be thinned down…

Basil seedlings in need of thinning

And there you have it.  Thinning, down dirty, with Jaws shark attack music playing in your head.


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