Seed Swaps

Thinning Ouch!

07 Oct 2011
Storms 22°C / 72°F

So my first seedlings, my Sugarloaf Cabbage, while still only producing their first true leaves, need to be thinned out. As you can see in the main picture, they germinated quite well, which has resulted in crowded cells in the seedling tray. My basil is headed the same way.

Thinning out is always something I have dreaded. The title is not a typo. it hurts me to destroy perfectly good plants. My head tells me it’s the best thing for the future crop, but my heart still doesn’t like it.

I prefer the ‘chop off’ method of thinning, as at least I know I’m not potentially damaging the remaining plants. you can see my thinnings in the second picture, and the end result in the last picture.

Quite a few of the cells still have 2 seedlings, and a couple have 3. Do you think that is OK, or should I thin them all to 1 plant per cell? Certainly until they’ve grown a little more I dont think reducing them any further is wise, but what do you reckon. How much would you and do you thin, and when?




Wish I could give you some helpful advice but I am squeamish about thinning as well!
I tend to be stingy in the sowing (1 or 2 seeds per cell for me) so I don’t have to deal with the problem!
I can say I have had success splitting and replanting basils once they are a decent size (5cm tall?). I may have lost an odd plant that way but most recover fine as long as I am careful not to rip off too many roots!

My sugarloafs last year were direct sown and a bit too close together (although not as close as yours). It meant the smaller plants didn’t start maturing until after the stronger plants were harvested. I ended up with cabbages still growing almost a year later!
I am trying to avid them this year, partly because of the space needed and partly because i am sick of squishing caterpillars!

I hope you can find a solution to your dilemma!

Posted on 08 Oct 11 (over 4 years ago)

1 plant per cell will do better. in a month the plants will be so big you will laugh at the idea that you wanted to crowd them in at more than 1 per cell.

Posted on 08 Oct 11 (over 4 years ago)

yeah, bite the bullet – one plant per pot!

Posted on 08 Oct 11 (over 4 years ago)

I agree one plant per cell,you get better rootballs per plant.Even if they do not propagate you can reseed and still have a good viable plant.With the basils I usually put two or three in a nice 10 inch container and have a nice picking bunch(after transplanting).Found out that plants eventually grow out to a single strong plant anyway.Spend some time up front and single plant,you will probaly have to use more trays then than cry when you throw away the smaller weaker looking plants during thinning.Even if they look weak with some love and good fertilizer you can turn a weak plant into a strong healthy plant.When planting individual seeds pick the larger,I drop them onto a paper plate and you can almost hear the density when they hit the plate.Clean your hands good and roll them lightly in your fingers and you can feel the density.I let the plant fill the tray out with roots then let dry out(as to the point where it can almost fall out without sticking to the tray) then transplant.When transplanting found out that if you put fresh soil down first the some granular fertilizer down in then some soil on top then you transplant, it is a good fertilization that the roots can absorb right of the bat.But not too much granular as to burn the roots.After that found out foliar spray is the more economical way,it gets the fertilizer to the plant right away than wasting money and waiting for the in ground fertilizer to take affect.I have tried them all and found that Algoflash(which has different blends availiable for different plants)is the bomb.Also I have graduated away from the flat trays to the deep conical trays that seem to work better in producing stronger root formation and more efficient watering during starting of plants.Good luck hope this helps.

Posted on 08 Oct 11 (over 4 years ago)

Thanks folks. 1 plant per cell it is.

I’m quite surprised so many came up, given the seeds had a sow-by date of 2009. Obvious cabbage has a strong bloodline :)

Posted on 08 Oct 11 (over 4 years ago)

Any plant you can eat the sprout of can be eaten, even tiny. If you leave enough room, that is sow a bit more thinly, then when the culls get 3-4 sets of leaves you can snip them off as salad greens. Baby greens are delicious and so tender. No waste, no tears!

Posted on 08 Oct 11 (over 4 years ago)

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Maryvale, 4370


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