Ben Sharda is KCCG’s Executive Director and he has led KCCG for more than 30 years. His practical approach to gardening has played a key role in KCCG’s success. This month, Ben offers tips on thinning your garden.
Thinning Your Garden
Often when we talk to gardeners about thinning, their first response is, “you mean I need to pull seedlings out?” The short answer to this is, yes.
When too many plants are growing in an area, the plants suffer from overcrowding and do not grow to normal size, which causes them to not produce as well.
Here are a few tips to help you give your plants the space they need to grow successfully:
• Pay attention to the spacing needs of the varieties you grow. Each seed packet will have recommended spacing listed on it. If you are planting in rows there will be a recommendation for space between rows and a recommendation for the space between plants. If you are planting in raised beds you do not need wide rows and your spacing will be equidistant between plants. The spacing recommendations take into account the size of plant, water needs and type of root. Often there is a spacing recommendation range; if you are new to gardening, plant on the upper end of this range.
• Don’t plant as many seeds. One way to do less thinning is to plant less seeds. You do not need to use all of the seeds in your seed pack. Plant seeds at the recommended spacing and if they don’t all germinate, you can plant to fill in later (but don’t wait too long).
• Thin plants early so you don’t disturb the roots of the plants you want to keep. The longer you wait to thin, the more detrimental it will be to the plants you want to keep. Get in close to your garden, look for multiples in the same spot and start pulling early. It is much better to thin seedlings when the soil is moist because it is easier and less disturbing to the roots of the remaining seedlings.
• Pull out the whole plant. Some gardening websites will recommend thinning by using a scissors to cut off the seedling at ground level. That method leaves the root system in the ground to decay and rot. It is better to pull the whole plant up, not just the top.