Thinning Your Seedlings

Many seeds, like carrots, have a lower germination percentage and are too small to plant one at a time. And beet seeds aren’t a seed at all, rather a pod of multiple seeds. As a result, many seedlings need to be thinned once they sprout. Thinning is to remove excess seedlings to make room for established seedlings to grow. Thinning is as important as weeding. Carrots growing too close together will never become proper carrots. I know it feels harsh. But when you’re done, you’ll grow better veggies and have a handful of micro greens!

To thin seedlings, simply determine the spacing you’re seedling needs, grasp the seedlings you want to remove at the base and pull straight up. If the seedlings get a little older and are not releasing without disturbing their neighbors, use scissors to cut them off at dirt level.  Each type of seedling needs a different spacing. Here is a reference.

  • Carrots: 2”-4”apart

  • Radishes: 1” apart

  • Beets: 2”-3”apart

  • Borage: 6”-10” apart

  • Zinnias: 8” apart

  • Malabar Spinach: 5” apart

  • Pole beans: 2” apart

  • Cucumbers: 2-3 plants/ hill

  • Summer and winter squash: 2 plants/hill

  • Peas: 1” apart

You don’t need to get out a ruler. Just make an estimate. For instance, I estimate the tips of 2 of my fingers is about 1 inch wide so I thin my radishes to two fingers apart.

Water well after thinning.