Thinning Your Seed Starts


lettuce started from seed needs thinning

Ever feel remorse and near sadness for snipping bunched up seedlings like these? Many experts recommend thinning in that way. You simply select a strong seedling and snip off the neighboring plants to allow the strongest plant to grow. 

Here on the DIY Backyard Farm we have a “no snipping policy”! Instead, we invest a bit more time and a lot more care to gently uproot crowed seedlings and transplant them so they grow at desired spacings. 


lettuce seedlings in their new home

Our method requires a soft touch. In fact, tweezers come in handy for this job. Just be sure not to pick young plants up by their stems. We grab by the root tips instead.   

Transplanting crowded seedlings gives you a ton of bang for your buck!

6 thoughts on “Thinning Your Seed Starts

  1. I do that myself. Even if I were to lose half of the transplanted seedlings, I’d still be ahead of the game. I even do this with my carrots. (The secret is to water them well every day for several days so they’ll take root.)

  2. HAHAHA. Damp soil and pulling very slowly, very carefully is the key. Then, I use an awl to make a deep hole to slide the root into. The best success I ever had was when I thinned/transplanted them right before a good rain. I had about a 90% success rate! (Usually, I got about 1/3 survive. So now I know post transplant watering is critical.)

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