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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Questions from a Reader: When to thin seedlings


I am trying to start my own seeds this year. I have
peas, radishes, and some herbs. The peas have already grown sprouts. When do I want to thin them. As soon as a few sprout or after they get their true leaves?
~Christy R. Salt Lake City, Utah

I thin slowly, in a few step process. Mother Nature will sometimes thin out the weak seedlings for you, if you thin too vigorously at the beginning you may not end up with as many plants as you had wished. I tend to wait until I have some healthy looking seedlings, then thin them out so they aren't right next to each other. Once they have grown a little bigger and you can see which seedlings are the strongest, thin them again so they are spaced according to what the packet says.

If seedlings are too close together, it is a good idea to thin them by just cutting the top off with scissors. This will prevent uprooting the seedling that is staying.

Though thinning is beneficial for many plants, it is especially important for root crops such as radishes, overcrowding will prevent them from growing round roots.

~Marisa

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