Monday, May 20, 2024

Gardening with Dr. Joe White: Thinning New Seedlings

by BPT Staff
0 comment
Dr. Joe W. White is a retired horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter.

If you are planting a flower bed or a vegetable garden for the first time and you’re starting with seed, here’s some information that might be helpful. Usually when you open the seed packet, more seed will drop to the ground than you intended. The result is that too many seedlings will appear in a cluster and to reduce competition for moisture, light and soil nutrients it will be necessary to remove some of them immediately. The first leaves you will see are called the seed leaves. These will serve to keep the new plant alive until it can make its own food via photosynthesis. The second set of leaves are the true leaves and will serve the plant all the way to maturity. Don’t worry about the seedling leaves. They will shrivel and dispose of themselves. Excess seedlings should be removed at the soil surface.

Failure to thin to a minimum of an inch apart will cause seedling to be spindly and weak while spacing to more than an inch and saving only the heathiest ones will usually produce seedlings that are stout and sturdy and more likely to survive.  While extra seedlings can be moved to another location rather than being sacrificed, such a move will likely damage or destroy the still tender roots and the seedling may die. Once a plant has attained a good size, it needs to be planted by itself. While working with tender seedlings, don’t handle the plants by their stems.  Stems are easily bruised and usually that will cause death of the plant. The still tender plants are best handled by one of their leaves which, if broken or damaged, will encourage the plant to develop additional leaves.

Whether you use the seedlings you developed or transplants you have bought, you are now ready to start your garden. If it’s a new location, you need to destroy all vegetation, loosen the soil with either a tiller or hand tools and improve it by incorporating a generous amount of organic material. Next, gather a pint sample of the improved soil and have it tested. If the soil test reveals that you need to make some adjustments relative to minerals and/or level of acidity, do this before you plant anything. Vegetation is most effectively destroyed by appropriate herbicides. Another helpful practice is to finish preparing for the gardening season by spreading a two or three inch layer of an organic material over the entire top of the garden area to help retain some moisture in the soil and to continue to suppress invading weeds. At the end of the gardening season dig this top layer of organic matter into the soil and plant a cover crop (such as southern peas) to help prevent erosion as well as to enrich the soil even further. 

In choosing a place to grow a garden, a location that gets full sun all day and has good surface drainage is ideal, but if you have to settle for a spot that’s not quite that good, know that the yields from your crops may likely be less than you had hoped.

You may also like

About Us

Empowering Communities Through Truth and Insight: The Bossier Press-Tribune is dedicated to delivering timely, accurate, and relevant news to the residents of Bossier Parish and beyond. Guided by our motto, ‘Serving God and Our Community,’ we endeavor to be a trusted source of information and a beacon of light in the pursuit of truth and understanding.

@2022 – All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed byu00a0PenciDesign