Nutrients in the Garden 15: Thinning Small Seeded Vegetables

I am a bit frustrated in the garden. I don’t even want to show you these pictures.  Can you see this row? It’s supposed to be a row of broccoli and it’s actually a pile of broccoli sprouts. Not sure what I am going to do here, I am considering putting my cucumbers there since we failed at getting a good stand. There are several other rows of seeds that did not come up and they should have by now. I think we may have covered the seeds too deeply.


I do have a good stand of peas, lettuce and radishes. Tonight we thinned all three. Thinning is the process of removing seedlings from the row. I don’t like to be crowded and neither do seedlings.

If plants are overcrowded, they fight for nutrients and water producing a smaller weaker plant. With a small amount of space to garden we need to use water, soil and nutrients as efficiently as possible. When sowing seeds, we often over seed. This helps ensure we have a good population rate or a good stand of seedlings. When two seedlings are too close to each other, I simply pull the smaller, weaker seedling. It seems a bit of a waste but it is a common garden practice. In a perfect garden (aren’t we all striving for perfection), the plants grow in nice straight lines and each plant is evenly spaced according to the spacing requirement for each vegetable. Thinning helps the gardener obtain this goal.

natalie row small

Farmers are much better at this. Over time equipment has allowed farmers to plant with proper depth and spacing, eliminating the need for hand thinning. Can you imagine hand thinning one acre of lettuce? Thanks goodness farming has evolved and we all don’t have to rely on humans to do all of the labor. As farmers strive to feed billions of mouths, efficient use of water, soil and nutrients is critical.

We took a break from thinning to disperse some dandelion seeds. This makes me smile, so much pleasure from a simple flower.

natalie dandelion small

And play with the kittens.

natalie kitten small

No wonder my garden looks as pathetic as it does right now, too many distractions. With the three day weekend ahead, I will focus on getting the garden “more” picture perfect or at least not embarrassingly pathetic as it looks right now. On the other hand, life is too short not to pick dandelions and play with kittens.

Do you have any garden frustrations or distractions?


Happy to be gardening with you.



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