Thinning seedlings is hard and sad. Today, I am working on my seedlings, and I need to remove all but one per pod. When I plant seeds, I try my best to only drop 2 or three per pod. However, sometimes 4 or 5 make their way into the dirt! Plucking out a healthy seedling breaks my heart. How do I eliminate a seedling that looks great? I mean, it is easy if one looks weak or spindly. What do you do if each one looks great?
In past years, I tried to re-plant the plucked seedling into another pot of dirt and have had some success in doing so. Transplanting a seedling that has been plucked can really destroy it. The stems are fragile, and the roots are not very strong. If trying to re-plant them, extra care must be taken. First, have the new pot and dirt ready to receive the seedling. Second, loosen the dirt gently around the root. Never pluck or pull the seedling without loosening the dirt first, the roots will break off. Third, water right away. Fourth, cross your fingers for luck.
Here's the thing. I know how many plants I want to grow for the season, and this year for example, I planted 32 pods with tomato seeds. If all 32 pods have a seedling in it, I do not need more tomato plants. (Or do I? lol) Sometimes, for whatever reason, I will have a few empty pods. Maybe the seeds went into another pod when I was dropping them into the dirt, or maybe those seeds were duds, I don't know. I only try transplanting a plucked seedling if it looks strong and I have empty pods. The reason being that the seedling has several weeks of growth already and planting new seeds would be weeks behind. I figure, why not? I have a 50/50 chance of the plant surviving. Worst case scenario, I need to buy a few plants from the garden store to fill my garden.
So, my fellow gardeners, do you have a hard time thinning your seedlings? Or is it just me?