If you planted seeds a couple weeks ago like I did, by now your seeds have (hopefully) sprouted and grown an inch or two. My tomatoes all came up within a week, but my peppers just started to come up this past weekend. They were enjoying their warm bed in the soil too much and didn’t want to get up yet!
When seedlings get to be 1-2 inches tall, it’s time for the dreaded SEED THINNING.
I hate seed thinning. It is so unfair to the little plants who are just trying to grow. But it has to be done. Multiple seedlings cannot grow in the same starter pot. They will compete with each other for light and water and eventually kill each other. If you do not thin your seedlings, you will not have healthy plants. So just suck it up like I did and get on with it.
The picture below shows one of my tomato starter pots, where both the seeds I planted have sprouted.
The seedlings are somewhere between an inch to two inches tall, so it’s time to THIN. Look at the plants and try to determine which is the strongest of all the plants in the pot. I decided the one on the right looks the best, so the one on the left gets the cut.
Gently grab the seedling….
And gently pull it all the way out. Try not to disturb the other seedling.
His root was pretty long already!
I’m really sorry buddy.
Thinned seedlings can go in the compost bin.
You do not have to thin your seedlings all at once. I watch mine and when I see a pot where there’s a clear winner, I go ahead and pluck out the other one.
I find that the plants left start getting bigger and stronger really quickly, once I’ve thinned out their competitors. This guy got his own pot last week and he started to sprout another set of leaves right away. I took these pictures last week, so the plants are even bigger now.
I wasn’t sure on these two, so I let them duke it out for another couple days. I ended up pulling out the one on the left on Saturday.
If it’s not clear which plant is the strongest, I usually just leave the one that’s closest to the middle of the pot and pluck out the rest.
So if I hate seed thinning, why do I plant multiple seeds per pot? Good question! You could only plant one seed per pot. Then you wouldn’t have to thin and you wouldn’t waste seeds. The reason I plant multiple seeds per pot is because not all seeds germinate. Sometimes you get a bad seed or the seed just doesn’t like its environment or who knows, but it just doesn’t sprout. If you only have one seed in a pot and it doesn’t sprout then you have to start all over again. If you put two seeds in the pot then you have two chances of getting a sprout the first time around.
Whatever you choose is up to you. Do what works best. I find that I have better luck with tomatoes so I only put two seeds in the pot. But I struggle with peppers so I’ll put three or four seeds in each pepper pot to increase my chances.
How are your seedlings doing? It’s not too late to start seeds if you haven’t already! Read my post on seed starting and get to plantin’! I’m going to start some more seeds tonight actually. If you want a garden but don’t want to take care of seeds, that’s okay too. Just buy some transplants from a local nursery after your frost free date and drop them in the ground. Easy! Or get the best of both worlds and start a few seeds and buy a few transplants. That’s what I do. 🙂
I hope you are enjoying your Monday. I am thawing out after the big snow this past weekend.