The most difficult of all gardening tasks for many gardeners doesn’t require brute strength or special skills.
But when it comes time to do it, they hesitate, try to put it off, or worse, simply decide not to do it.
“It’s so hard to do!” they say.
What is this task?
For a variety of reasons, many gardeners find it difficult to thin out seedlings, to look at a row of crowded little plants just starting to grow their first true leaves and purposely remove some of them.
And I don’t mean remove them as in “carefully dig them up and transplant them someplace else.”
I mean remove them as in “swipe them out with a little cultivator or pull them out with your bare hands.”
By whatever means, thin them out and toss those extra seedlings on the compost pile.
“It’s so hard,” laments many a gardener.
But it isn’t really physically hard to do, as we all know. But mentally? Yes, many gardeners find this to be one of the most difficult gardening tasks to do.
Here are some tips to make it easier.
Don’t sow seeds so thick. Take your time and spread the seeds out a bit as you sow them. There will naturally be fewer seedlings to thin out.
Don’t imagine the little seedlings screaming as you pull them out, begging for your mercy, pleading to be replanted. Don’t imagine as your hand hovers over the row of seedlings that any of them are saying, “Don’t pick me! Please. I promise to grow bigger. Pick that other one. Please, give me a chance.”
Repeat after yourself as you remove the seedlings something along the lines of, “If I don’t do this, none of the seedlings will grow well which means I won’t end up with flowers for the butterflies and bees. Yes, I’m doing this for the butterflies and bees!”
Then do it.
Of course, you can prick out the crowded seedlings and replant them, if you must. This is easier said then done in some cases, depending on how thick the seedlings are and what type of seedling it is. Some seedlings just do not like to be disturbed! But others will transplant just fine. You just need to make sure to water, water, water, and don’t let the seedlings dry out after replanting them, which you must do right away.
And as a last resort, you could hire a professional seed thinner, if such a person exists. She could come in and thin out the seedlings for you. Just keep in mind that asking such a person to also weed around the seedlings while they are thinning them out is like asking a gourmet chef to pour you a bowl of cornflakes while they are fixing you a fancy dish.
It’s just not done!
I hope this was helpful for those who find that thinning out seedlings is one of the most difficult things a gardener has to do.