Hold My Hand, It’s Thinning Time

by Daisy on 03/28/2011

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I have a hard time thinning seedlings, which is a particular problem because I also have an overseeding issue.

To wit:

Lettuce is one thing, beets are another.  Beets can’t be beets if they’re too bunched up together.

So I’m taking pictures and you’re here with me, lending moral support in absentia.

Here’s the before, obviously too close, messy, and some lettuce seeds have washed over from a neighboring area and taken root:

The seed packet says thin to from 2 to 4 inches apart.  Here we go.  It’s not as tough as I thought.  The worst is when the strongest, biggest sprouts are right next to each other, and the little puny one is in the right spot.

It’s also hard taking out the lettuce, even though I know they’ll crowd the beets and not look as neat, later.  I like messy, but I also like neat sometimes.


Still too close in places, but baby steps here.  I also re-seeded some of the skips.

Thanks for walking me through it.  Now for the chard.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessie March 28, 2011 at 8:05 am

Ugh, I hear you. Thinning is awful. My grandpa never understood my issue with thinning seedlings (he’s one of my gardening gurus), and why on earth I’d want to just plant the amount of seeds that I need, or maybe just a teensy bit more when I can put the whole packet in and be guaranteed that I’ll have enough seedlings.

I do a lot better starting the plants in pots and transplanting, then if I have extra pots I can give them away instead of pulling them up. It doesn’t work for delicate plants like peas and such, but I do as much as I can that way.

Beegirl March 28, 2011 at 8:09 am

It breaks my heart to thin too.. That is until the beets come in and they are the size of baseballs! Your lettuce looks wonderful! Happy thinning..!!
: )

Q March 28, 2011 at 9:14 am

I feel your pain, it’s like cutting off my right arm. Even in my little rookie garden!

Tanya Walton March 28, 2011 at 10:08 am

I hate thinning out and where ever possible make it so I don’t have too. My beets are sown into peat pots and then planted into the ground when they ahve got going…this has worked well for me the last couple of years having them ready to harvest up to a month before everyone else s…I’m hoping for the same success this year too!!

Bobbi March 28, 2011 at 10:09 am

I am right there with you all. I do them in pots also, but a couple seeds together. I have to do my tomatos this week. *sigh* 🙂

Cutzi March 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Only because I just finished reading about it my Square Foot Gardening book that arrived in the mail today… SFG relieves thinning woes. I did it last year – worked great!

Kate March 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm

It’s not easy, but Oh, the tiny, tasty little Spring salads! Rinse those little ones and Enjoy!

Pauline March 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm

I thought I was the only one that felt bad thinning out the little seedlings. My son said he is going to thin his before he gets too attached to the babies!

alisha March 28, 2011 at 8:39 pm

OH! I hate thinning! I hope you had all those yummy beat greens in a salad. Yum! I need to get mine in the ground soon!

KAY March 29, 2011 at 10:14 am

+1 with Cutzi…Mel encourages simply snipping the extras with a pair of scissors. Sounds easier than trying to gently pull them out. I get around it by being more meticulous when seeding.

Pat @ Elegantly, Gluten-Free March 29, 2011 at 12:23 pm

You are so right — thinning is stressful work! I just have to keep reminding myself that, much like people, those little beets and lettuce plants don’t like crowding. Sometimes I’ve successfully transplanted the stronger of the pulled plants, but that too easily turns into “let’s replant everything thing in the row!”

Kris March 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Thank you all for affirming my own feeling about thinning! I haven’t done it, yet. I’m kind of new to this and my lettuce looks wonderful, but very crowded. I am going to thin– again–today! I’ve already put some in pots to give away, but I can’t do that to all. So, I’ll thank them for their sacrifice and let them go! 🙂

Kimberly March 30, 2011 at 12:01 am

WOW! Thanks for the great memories! My Dad, gardener extraordinaire, would turn into a big, quivering heap of jello when it came to thinning his seedlings. I remember him saying “It just feels so,WRONG!” He would make noises like he was in physical pain pulling them out!

As a little girl, I always found it funny! (he wasn’t putting on a show for me or anything!)


wendopolis March 30, 2011 at 7:12 am

I am the same way!

Tomato Lady March 30, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Kimberly–LOVE your Dad!

LJ March 30, 2011 at 8:03 pm

I always call myself Dr. Kevorkian when I have to thin out my babies. I probably make the sounds that Kimberly’s Dad makes.

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