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Tomato Plants

Q.My Question Involves The Thinning Of Seedlings

Zone 33467 | Ben0118 added on April 29, 2020 | Answered

My wife and I are beginning gardeners and we’re having trouble finding an answer for a specific question we have. I have grown tomatoes for years, and I know that with tomatoes, you only want to have one plant to every 12-18 inches or so, so when you thin seedlings, you leave just the strongest ONE. Our question is this: We recently bought calendula, lavender, and chamomile and they have all sprouted nicely. They were direct down in an above ground bed. They are getting to the size in which we would need to thin them to the correct spacing. When we thin these seedlings, do we only leave a single seedling every 6 inches (or whatever the recommended spacing is)? My wife is worried that she will not end up with bushy plants if she thins them out to one seedling per recommended space. I also have the same question about cilantro. I apologize about the lengthy message, but I cannot seem to find this info online. Thank you so much.

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on May 1, 2020

Generally, at the very most, you will plant 3 seeds in each spot. This should be more than enough, as any larger clumps than that will stretch in competition for light and space.

Once seedlings are large enough to know which one will be the strongest (It will be very evident) you can pinch the others. Do not pull, as this will disturb the root zone. You can wait until you know, for certain, which is going to be the strongest. You won't have to pinch it the moment that it pops up. Plus, waiting a bit will offer a little more protection. You will, at least, be sure that your selection will live.

The bottom line is that it is harder to thin a large grouping than it is to only plant just a few seeds in a spot, so this is best.

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