I’m sure you’ve heard by now that it’s common to sow three or even four seeds at a time, but this is a necessity rather than a trend. It’s like a backup plan, just in case one or more of the seeds are dormant and can’t germinate. Especially if you’re growing in rows rather than in pots, you wouldn’t want any space getting wasted so planting a few extra seeds for good measure is always a good idea.
Why You Should Thin Out Seedlings
So what happens if they all pop up? Well you have to thin them out, a common thing most farmers do but many beginners still seem to ask why even do it in the first place? More seedlings are a good thing, right? Actually, more seedlings too close together do more harm than good for your garden. An overcrowded spot of seedlings may look fine at first, but as they grow, their roots will battle it out for water, food, and minerals. As a result, they’ll entangle themselves, which essentially chokes them and blocks air passage. This not only affects one bunch of seedlings but since it affects the quality of soil, all other seedlings are impacted.
Thinning Out Seedlings
You might find thinning seedlings a bit troublesome because you can never understand which one will turn out healthy, and just when you think you’ve chopped the weaker one, the one standing begins to wilt! So whenever I’m ready to thin the seedlings, I simply cut at the soil line after the plants grow to a size that makes choosing the weaker one easier. In other words, I wait to thin until the seedlings have grown their true leaves. That way there is little guesswork involved, the stronger plant will become easier to spot, and you’ll make fewer mistakes this way.
A Few More Tips
- Since the rate of germination varies between 70% – 90%, and from plant to plant, you’ll begin to learn from year to year which seeds to sow more of and which you can cut back on.
- To help potted seedlings along, place it under an artificial light for a good 15 hours each day. Wait until the seedlings grow their true leaves to thin.
- Do not pull out unwanted seedlings. This can damage all the root systems. Always use scissors to make your edits, or wherever it looks a little crowded.
- If you find that all the seedlings seem so strong, that you just can’t make up your mind, try replanting the extra seedlings in new pots. Let them all grow together until they get to a size where they are very strong, then carefully remove the bunch from the pot or scoop them out of the ground, and gently loosen the soil around them with your hands or a small garden tool. Immediately replant the seedlings.