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Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Thinning Vegetables

I was just reading online that I'm supposed to thin lettuce?? Oops. How important is it to do this? The close up picture (picture 4) is of mixed lettuce and to me they look healthy, I don't want to thin them unless I definitely should? I also have a row of carrots that I need to thin but should I wait a bit longer? They are a few inches tall... I tried to take a few out already and re-plant, but the re-planted ones died. I hate thinning.

I also put a picture of the full garden, I realize the rows aren't the most thought out. We put bush bean seeds in the empty spaces, and they've started to come in. If there is anything else obvious that we did wrong, appreciated if you point out. Thank you!

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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Thinning Vegetables

You can eat the lettuce thinnings if you are careful you may be able to get enough roots to replant some. Lettuce should be spaced 8-10 inches apart. Otherwise they won't have the space to develop a full head. Carrots need to be thinned to 1-2 inches. It is hard to salvage the thinnings. If you do not relieve the crowding you won't get many carrots develop the roots may be deformed or crooked and many of the carrots will not form at all. If you don't like to thin carrots pelleted seed are available. You would have to space them properly from the start and it is more expensive. I usually sew a few seeds and leave a space and sew a few more. Carrot germination is sporadic so you have to over sew a bit, just don't sew so thickly so there is less to thin. Carrot do not like hot weather. For me I can only grow them Nov- January when the temperature is below 72 degerees.. After that they are more bitter.

I only sew 10 lettuce seeds at a time since lettuce is ready in 45-55 days and that is all that I can eat when they mature. Successively sow lettuce every couple of weeks for a continuous supply. Lettuce is another cool season crop that does not do well once the temperature goes past 85 degrees. It grows the fastest at 70-80 degrees with longer days. It will take lettuce longer to mature when days are short and it is cold. Long days makes lettuce grow very fast but the combination of fast growth and heat will lead to early bolting and tip burn. So plant lettuce in partial shade in the warmer months and use the heat resistant varieties like muir, red lettuce, and butter lettuce. If is it over 85 degrees, grow warm season vegetables.
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Thinning Vegetables

Yup, thinning is really important. You can start thinning by eating, but you have got to give your plants a little room.

Is the clump in the second picture parsley? I would dig up the whole clump, gently pull a couple plants out of it. Plant those (with plenty of room around them) and compost the rest. I grow a lot of parsley and that is four plants. Gives me more parsley than I know what to do with. But they will NOT do well in a clump like that.

Here's one parsley plant:

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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Thinning Vegetables

I think that's a clump of carrots. Here's one way you can "thin" -- stick a trowel straight down the center of that clump, all the way down, then tilt and lift one half of it. Plant that 1/2 clump somewhere else. Fill the hole left behind with compost or potting mix or good garden soil. Some will die in the process and get culled. Smaller clump will have less to compete and could potentially grow baby carrots that can later be pulled/thinned so the rest of the clump can grow as well.

With lettuce, just reach in with fingers or long regular paper scissors and snip or pull baby lettuce to eat from here and there.

Snip and eat the biggest outer leaves of those dark greens that are pushing at the lettuce.
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