The pain of thinning

January 28, 2009 | By | Comments (0)

Thinning crops is often a difficult task for new gardeners. It’s hard to avoid the feeling that one is wasting potential food, but really, it is a totally necessary step to make sure that each plant has enough room to form properly. And depending on when you do it, you might get some baby (read: gourmet) vegetables out of the process.

I planted carrots a while back in the test garden. I seeded them pretty heavily in case there were any problems with germination. Here is how they grew:

Carrots_unthinned

A good time to thin is when the tops are a several inches high. You want to wait until they are established and healthy, but not so long that the roots get in one another’s way. Anywhere from 2-4 inches sounds about right.

This shot really reveals why thinning is necessary. These carrots would not have room to size up:

Carrots_root_view

Be sure to thin gingerly, trying to cause as little disturbance as possible to the surrounding plants. Then again, don’t worry too much. Plants often look a bit droopy after being thinned, but they usually recover.

Carrots_thinning

Thin the seedlings to approximately 2 inches apart. This gives each carrot about 1 inch on either side to grow.

Carrots_thinned

These are on the smaller side, but as I’ve mentioned to in the past, I’m not the world’s most patient gardener. Waiting would have set a better example, but I’m happy to announce that these shots are from a few weeks ago and the carrots are coming along nicely. It just goes to show that you should always be free to experiment in your own little plot of soil.

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