Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Don't Forget to Thin Your Seedlings! by Amy Bubar

Photo courtesy
Your vegetable garden is finally in!  Now, don’t make the mistake of neglecting your labor of love.  Those seeds tend to sprout and grow faster than we often realize, so once your seedlings are a few inches high they may need to be thinned out to make room for their roots to grow. It may seem disheartening to pluck from the ground something that you nurtured to life, but thinning is important to help reduce competition for water, light, and nutrients by nearby plants.  This will allow space for your roots to expand morph into the crop of savory delights they were destined to be!
Photo courtesy Green City Growers
One way to thin your seedlings is to carefully pull individual seedling stems near their bases to remove their entire root system from the ground.  This can be done by hand but it may be helpful to use a small pointed instrument like a butter knife to help pry the seedling from the ground without disrupting the other seedlings around it.

Photo courtesy Amy Bubar
An alternative method to thinning is to pinch or simply cut the tops off of the seedlings you no longer want to grow there.  When you remove the leaves you remove the means of photosynthesis and the root vegetable will no longer receive the energy from the sun that it needs and the seedling will stop growing.

Photo courtesy Amy Bubar
Remember, thinning now may feel counterproductive and even a bit painful, but stick to the plan and you will assuredly be rewarded with plump, hearty vegetables during harvest season.  

Photo courtesy Sunset magazine
Still having a hard time making that sacrifice?  Those microgreens that you just plucked from your garden will be a delicious addition to tonight’s salad!