As we get closer to the next planting season, we wanted to talk a bit about planting in groups, and whether or not it is better to thin out some of our seedlings first or not. The answer is, sometimes it is best to thin them out to leave just one seedling per plug plant, and sometimes you can get away with not doing so. Thinning out the plug plants has its pros and cons – when you thin out root veggies like beetroot, for example, you will tend to get a bigger root at harvest time. Thinning out other crops like spring onions doesn’t have much impact at all, so you may as well plant the plug as is even if there are several seedlings, as that way you’ll get more to harvest.
Here is our advice for autumn plants:
- Beetroot – thin out to 2 or 3 per plug if you are happy with several smaller beets, or 1 if you prefer a single larger beet
- Broccoli – thin to 1 per plug
- Kale – thin to 1 per plug
- Cabbage Greens – thin to 1 or 2 per plug
- Spring Onions – plant as they come
- Pak Choi & Tatsoi – thin to 1 or 2 per plug
- Spinach & Chard – plant as they come
- Wild Rocket, Mizuna, Mustard Leaves and other Salad Leaves (excluding lettuce) – plant as they come
- Winter Lettuces – thin to 1 or 2 per plug
- Turnip – thin to 1 or 2 per plug
- Swede – thin to 1 per plug
The easiest way to thin them out is to pinch the seedlings off or snip them off with a small pair of scissors at the base of the stem. This way you won’t disturb the remaining roots and will get better growth.