Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to Thin Tomato Seedlings (without stressing them out)


 
I'm not thrilled when I must thin my seedlings.  It feels like I'm harming my children somehow.  I know, that's a bit dramatic of me but still, it feels wrong to determine which plants will be allowed to live and which ones must die. 
My husband would likely argue (and he would be right) that if I were to plant LESS in each pot, I wouldn't have to remove them.  After all of these years of gardening, I'm just still so afraid that my seeds might not germinate, so I tend to plant too many per pot.

In a previous posting, I shared with you how easy it is to start your own tomato plants.


Today, I'm going to show you how easy it is to thin your tomato seedlings.



As you can see,
some of my pots have up to 5 seedlings in them
 















Very simply, cut out the smaller or weaker seedlings,
keeping placement in mind.  I reduce down to two seedlings per pot.  I attempt
to allow ample space between the two
remaining seedlings in the pot.  It isn't difficult to "cut" the dirt in half once it's time
to transplant to the garden, so long as the
seedlings aren't too close together.
The reason you will want to cut the seedlings instead of pulling them is to avoid disturbing the delicate roots of the neighboring seedling.


 

Thinned down tomato seedlings

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How Much Seed Should You Buy to Feed Your Family For a Year?



 

40 comments:

  1. I prefer to plant 5 in a cup arranged in a star pattern to facilitate far enough spacing to break them up when needing to give them their own pots.

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    1. That sounds really efficient! For some reason I can't seem to accomplish a pattern when planting seedlings!

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    2. Lol. Just go with it. Humanity attempts in vain to place strict order of things around them. Numbering them does allow you to gauge germination rates which I like.

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  2. LOL I am glad to hear its disturbs others to take the life of one of the little fellas .. :O).. I am now using those jiffy pellets and I now only put 1 seed per pellet. Yes once in a while some wont germinate but mostly they do. At least on the tomatoes. Ever once in a while 2 seeds get in by mistake and poof there I am. I tend to just let them both live unless one is super smaller than the other.I figure two is okay :O)

    My peppers are worrying me hairless right now. I thought they were not coming up, then they started to come up, but whew they better do way better than what I am seeing! I sure hope so!

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    1. Texan,

      I'm just now getting peppers too! I'm like an expectant dad pacing the waiting room sometimes!

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    2. Had the same thing. Poof there is a jalepeno coming out strong and green just this morning.

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  3. Oh you lucky Kansan to be starting plants already and thinking GARDEN! Our kids live in K.C. and we love to go down about this time just to get our hands in some dirt! Your plants are looking great, hope you get lots of red tasty beauties! Thanks for following Sall's Country Life! I'm following you too just in case I need some tomatoes this summer :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I would gladly pass some tomatoes on to you ;)

      Have a great night!

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  4. I do the same as Texan, use the jiffy pellets and just do one to each. I just can't cut them. If I get too many I will pull them apart as well. I find it doesn't really seem to hurt them any once they are transplanted outside.

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    1. Becky,

      I'm going to have to try the pellets next time, seems the logical way to go. I did see a blog with instructions on how to make the pellets yourself. Seems easy enough!

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  5. Thank you for stopping in on my blog! I hopped over to yours and have really enjoyed it so fare. Hopefully we can share lots of ideas! You have lots of good info!

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    1. Hi Clint! I sure appreciate your visit and am looking forward to learning more from you!

      Have a great night!

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  6. hello Poppy and thank you for your nice comments. I will be back to visit you too. Isnt the web wonderful we can get great tips and ideas from like minded people from all over the world. good luck with your coming harvest

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    1. It really is nice to have the web! I remember searching libraries and magazines for information back in the day! Thank you for your warm wishes! I appreciate you coming by!

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. Thanks for sharing I love to plant tom

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    1. You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by and happy planting!

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  9. Interesting! I have no gardening experience, but my husband and I both dream of the day when we can have our own garden and grow our own organic produce.:)

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    1. Jessica,

      Thanks for visiting! I pray you'll have a garden soon! It's such a fulfilling experience on many levels. And so good for the children too!

      Warm wishes from Kansas!

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  10. Hi, Poppy - I'm the same way when starting seedlings. Once I get them to the "two in a pot" stage, I transplant the spare one to another pot. 'Course, we have to grow them pretty big inside because our growing season outside is so short. This transplanting assures that I have waaaay too many plants of just about everything but I keep doing it! We're still a ways away from the time to start anything inside up here in northern Minnesota. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and such can't be set outside until June 1st and then they still need protection for the cold nights. Seeing your seedlings up and growing kind of gives me a cure for early spring fever!

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    1. Mama Pea,

      I'm just amazed by you Northern gardeners! You must really plan ahead! I lived in San Antonio Texas for a while in my early twenties and got a little spoiled by the nearly "year 'round gardening". It felt like I moved far north when I moved back to Kansas!

      Thanks for visiting! Have a wonderful day!

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  11. Hi Poppy...thanks for visiting my blog...this is a return visit! I am envious of your seedlings! We are still under 4+ feet of snow with spring still a long way off. Plus, with my being away from the Little Shack for May-July, my gardening has had to go 'on hold'...which I do not like. Luckily, we live close to lots of orchards and growers, so I can stock up there. But, I do miss my own garden. Oh well...when I get back to it it will that much more precious! You have a lovely blog and I will enjoy visiting you here! Blessings!

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    1. Sue,

      Thanks so much for coming by! I know what you mean about the garden seeming even more precious. It seems like each season makes me appreciate the other seasons that much more.

      We actually are wishing for snow here. We've not had any to speak of this year. Unfortunately, if we get a late snow/freeze, the fruit trees that are attempting to bud will be ruined for a harvest this year.

      Have a beautiful day!

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  12. I never thought of just cutting them off, how obvious. Thanks for showing it to me. It will be at least a month before I get to planting seeds as we have frost so late in our hollow.

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    1. You're quite welcome! I'm glad you stopped by because I've tried to visit your blog many times (I'm following you) but each time (except the very first) I get a message that your page is "running a script" and I'm asked if I want to stop the script to avoid freezing up my internet explorer. But it freezes my computer up every time! I have to shut down and restart. It only happens with your blog and that's so frustrating because I see that you have some good stuff!

      Have a great day!

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  13. I'm so glad to learn that I'm not the only crazy person who feels guilty thinning the seedlings! I don't generally start the tomatoes until March, but have broccoli, kale, collards and chard all sprouting in a sunny window. This year I finally bit the bullet and shelled out $9 for a clear plastic bin, which, when turned upside down, makes an excellent (and cat-proof) mini greenhouse!

    The spinach season is well under way here in Denver, despite the foot of snow on the ground. I always plant it in the fall and winter it over. I used to cover it with plastic, now I use frost cloth. Someday I'll get my rear end together enough to actually build a cold frame! Anyhow, I always plant WAY too many, and then I just feel terrible thinning them. But the result is that they never have a chance to develop any nice leaves before they start to bolt (which is usually in late May or early June). So this year, I've been ruthless, and the plants are actually looking better than ever! Before this last round of snow I was able to harvest leaves that looked more like April than February! Of course, our warm January might have helped...

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    1. No, you aren't the only crazy person out here! Your gardening sounds amazing. I've never used a frost cloth, but maybe I should consider it!

      I've been devoting more garden space to Swiss Chard and New Zealand Spinach than to true Spinach because of how quickly it bolts. As you probably already know, the chard produces like a champ all summer long as does the New Zealand Spinach.

      EcoCatLady I am so glad I found your blog today! Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Hi Poppy, I don't do a vegetable garden, just flowers. But I appreciate all here helpful hints.
    I just awarded you the Liebster Blog award. You can find out about it on my blog.
    Blessings, Barb

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    1. Barb,

      Thank you so much for visiting again! I'll be right over to your blog to find out about the Liebster Blog award! Sounds exciting!

      Have a wonderful evening!

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  15. Love this ... makes me want to start a garden.
    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such a nice comment.
    Blessings.
    Audrey Z.. Timeless Treasures.
    http://audreyzumwalt.blogspot.com/

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  16. good on you Poppy and your organic gardening; nice fresh produce from your own garden to enjoy with your family; well done

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    1. Thank you Carole for the words of encouragement! I really appreciate your visit!

      Have a great day!

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  17. MAy I link this post to one of mine?

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    1. Clint,

      Please feel free to do so! I'm glad you found it useful!

      Have a wonderful day!

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    2. I have just posted a post with it!

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    3. Thanks Clint, I've been down with the flu this week and am just now catching up. I'll go check your post out!

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  18. Hello! I just came over from Clint's blog. Nice to hear I am not the only one who feels like they are killing babies lol I planted my herbs a few days ago and now I feel like I have 100 babies to take care of. (sigh)

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    1. No, Michaele, You aren't the only one! It is like watching over new babies! Exciting and anxiety causing at the same time! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  19. Not only do I plant too many, worried that they won't sprout. I also worry that I might thin the only one to have grown!

    Thanks for your post. :)

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    1. Linda,

      I know exactly what you mean! Thanks for the visit!

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