Search The Rusted Garden Blog: Just Enter A Vegetable or Phrase

Monday, March 19, 2012

Vegetable Gardening Tip #9: Over-Seed When You Plant and Thin

There are several reason for not following the spacing instructions on the seed package when planting seeds directly into the ground. When in doubt, follow the seed package and adjust next time.  But I can give you a pretty good method for planting seeds and that is the practice of over-seeding.

Over-seeding means you put a lot more seeds in the row or hole than is needed or instructed. The fact is, unless you have a large garden, you probably end up with extra seeds.  Very few people eat 500 hundred radishes or 200 heads of lettuce. The goal of over-seeding is to ensure you get maximum sprouting and fully utilize your space. You plant more seeds than you need and thin out any extra seedlings to appropriately space you remaining plants.

Now each plant requires a different method based on their size of growth. For instance cucumbers and squash get very large. Over-seeding for them is 3 to 5 seeds per spot. Remove the weakest and leave a single plant. You don't want to be waiting for 1 or 2 seeds to come up only to find they didn't germinate.You can add extra seeds when planting and thin or transplant the additional sprouted plants.

Radishes can go in every 1/2 inch or  they can be scattered down a row. When they are about 1/2 inch high, thin them to 1 inch apart in all directions. You can eat the extras in a salad.

Peas can have 2 seeds placed per hole. If 2 come up, you can leave them both or thin them to 1 plant per hole depending on where you planted them. You can have more peas per foot in a raised bed verses a 5 gallon container.

The bottom line is you don't have to plant perfectly as instructed. If you put 10 seeds in the ground spaced apart exactly as instructed, you might not get 10 germinating seedlings. Put in extra seeds and remove what you don't need. It will save you time by not haveing to replant and it will get more vegetables to your table.