Thinning plants

(Question)

I just threw a bunch of basil seeds into a pot and now I have quite a few little plants poking up. My concern is whether there are too many in one pot.  I’ve done the same thing with my tomatoes.  How should I thin my crop?

 

(Answer)

The best way to “thin” your plants is to wait until the first set of “true” leaves comes up. These will be the second pair of leaves from the bottom. The first pair is called the cotyledon and are the embryonic first leaves of a seedling.

Once the true leaves emerge, you can knock the soil out of the pot and transplant the individual seedlings to small pots. As they continue to grow and if the pot is fairly small, you may need to transplant one more time before it is time to place them in the garden.

When you are handling your baby seedlings, it is best to handle them by the true leaves as the stem and cotyledons are delicate and easy to break. Try not to leave the roots of the seedlings exposed to the air for too long before you get them into your new pots. If you have your new pots ready at the beginning of the process, this will help to speed things along.

Tomatoes should be repotted to one tomato per pot. Basil should also be potted up one per pot but if you have seeded too many of them, you can let the remaining seedlings grow on fora bit all clumped together. When they get a little larger, you can clip them for a tasty addition to your dinner.