Now that your schoolyard garden is planted for the fall, and your seeds are starting to sprout, it’s time to inspect your seedlings and do some thinning!
If you notice that your seedlings are growing too close together, thinning them out early on—two or three weeks after planting—will give your veggies enough room to grow. If two seedlings are growing right next to each other, try and gently pull out the smaller of the two seedlings. That way, the larger seedling that we keep in the garden will grow to be stronger, bigger and healthier!
If seedlings are planted too close together and you’re worried about pulling out too many at once, it may be necessary to simply pinch the green tops off of the seedling, so as not to disturb the roots of the remaining plants. Thinning is especially important for root vegetables because they need room to develop underground. Refer to our Raised Bed Plant Spacing Guide to determine how far apart your seedlings should be.
Rather than discarding or composting the seedlings that you pull out, you can throw them in a salad, or have your students each try tasting one on their own! You can eat seedlings of carrots, radishes, lettuce, beets, greens and spinach.
Thinning requires steady, gentle hands, and attention to detail. It is most successful when a small group of students (2 or 3) takes their time, slowly moving from plant to plant. Please remind your students to be cautious when thinning their schoolyard garden!
For more guidance, watch KCCG’s thinning tutorial video on YouTube: