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Thin out spring-sown seedlings

31 May 2013
Thin out spring-sown seedlings

Thin out spring-sown seedlings to give them plenty of room to spread out and grow tall and strong. Whether it's annual flower seeds sown in your border, or carrots, beetroot and lettuce in the veg garden, however sparingly you sprinkle it's likely a few too many seedlings will come up, and the rows get a little crowded.

That's mostly a good thing, as it allows for a few casualties to slugs or poor germination. But there comes a time when they start competing for water and nutrients. Time for you to act as referee, removing unwanted seedlings to leave the ideal spacing between each plant.

Choose the sturdiest seedlings to keep, and remove the rest. They're easy to pull up, but if there's a danger they'll disturb the roots of the remaining seedlings pinch them out at ground level instead.

You don't have to do your thinning all at once, and some crops, like carrots, provide an extra mini-harvest if you thin gradually. Pull every other seedling, then once they've grown a little more and their shoulders are touching, repeat until you reach the final spacing of around 5cm between roots. The tiny baby carrots you pull are deliciously sweet and tender scattered raw in salads.