Thinning Seedlings

I am new to gardening. On the back of some of my seed packets there are thinning instructions. (For example: "Thin to 12 to 15 inches apart.") What exactly does "thinning" mean? Does it mean that I have to discard some of the plants once they have sprouted?


Thinning seedlings is an important part of growing plants from seeds. If they're overcrowded, seedlings will compete for light and moisture, making them spindly and weak. Thinning gives seedlings enough "elbow room" to grow stout and sturdy.

If you are starting seeds indoors, the best way to thin them is to choose the healthiest looking ones and snip off adjacent plants at the soil line. When I thin my seedlings, I remove any seedlings within a finger's width of the one I'm saving. When I thin again, I thin so the foliage of one plant isn't touching the foliage of its neighbor. Another option is to gently pry the extra seedlings out of the soil and transplant them to another tray or pot. However, you risk damaging the roots.

Thin outdoor-sown seedlings according to the seed packet’s recommendations. Proper thinning is especially important for roots crops. With many plants, such as lettuce, spinach, and beets, you can enjoy the thinnings as you would gourmet baby vegetables

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