Diagnosis Confirmed: Thinning Problem

Before you call Rogaine or sign me up for the Hair Club for Men as a special exception, let me clarify.

I knew this diagnosis was coming.  It was just a matter of time before I would display any symptoms.  When they finally showed up, they were more painful than I could have ever expected.

You see, I’ve found that I have a problem with ‘thinning’ the seedlings that have just sprouted in my vegetable garden.  To date, I have followed the instructions on the seed packets very carefully.  I diligently planted the seeds evenly (spaced with almost ruler precision if instructed), covered them with ¼” of fine soil and tamped it down carefully.  Just as the seed packets had instructed.

My beautiful (albeit DENSE) row of newly sprouted radishes!

However, now they are instructing me to ‘thin’ my seedlings as they reach 1” in height.

And it is painful.  I almost can’t bring myself to pull their little green sprouts from the rows.  They lived too, you know.  They worked hard and sprouted just like the others, why do they have to lose their hard-earned spot in my row of vegetables?

Why can’t they all just live and produce beautiful vegetables in my garden?   I know the obvious answer to that.  If I want my radishes to have any sort of radish root, I understand why it is I need to be thinning them out.  But that doesn’t make this task any easier.


As I knelt down to carefully inspect them, I found myself comparing them like a judge at the county fair:

“This one has a notched leaf.  This one is smaller.  This one lacks uniformity.  This one isn’t quite as strong and green.  This one is not in the straight line of my row.” 

It worked for awhile, this thinning by what I’ll call “Natural Selection according to KT.”  But soon, I couldn’t see any differences in my beloved little sprouts.  They were all equally strong and equally green with equally perfect leaves.  I was quickly left with only the strong, and the picking became decidedly more difficult.  And I had made it about an eighth of the way across one row.

This ‘thinning’ project was definitely going to take longer than I had expected.

I also have to admit that it felt a little disconcerting to be that deciding hand, the final authority judging my poor little surviving sprouts, the ones I had so lovingly planted.  The ones that had made my heart skip with joy when I saw them first sprout delicately out of the garden soil.  Having the ability to grant life, and decide death wound up being a little harder than I expected.  And we’re just talking about radish seedlings here, folks.

Are there things in your life that need to be thinned, like my row of multiplying radish sprouts?  Sometimes it’s not easy to part with things.  Especially those things that you’ve toiled with, that you’ve fought for, that you’ve grown, encouraged and protected.  Emotions like pride and a sense of accomplishment can hold us back from the ‘thinning’ that’s necessary.  Without a little ‘thinning’ here and there, we are allowing those things to take over, pushing the other things in our lives aside.  By letting them sprout and prosper are we allowing them to eventually take over in the gardens of our lives?

‘Thinning’ is difficult, tedious work.  But just like my baby radishes that will swell and thrive with the new room for their roots, you may find that you are granting a little more space for the good in your life.  You might be giving your hopes and dreams just the room they need to take root and provide you with a bountiful harvest.

My darling row of radishes: BEFORE.

My darling row of radishes: AFTER (I think I made a little progress, don’t you? Now just another inch to go between them!)

Needless to say, my first attempt at thinning, didn’t go as easily as instructed on the seed packets.

Maybe it will just take a few more attempts by this amateur vegetable gardener.  Pulling a few more spry sprouts out at a time, until one day, my row will look like it has finally been thinned to perfection.  Let’s just hope I get the job done by July.  In the meantime, I’ll be poring over their little forms, looking for any slight bend, weak leaf, or yellowing stem.


28 thoughts on “Diagnosis Confirmed: Thinning Problem

  1. Well You could always replant the extras in a new row. I see why you are feeling bad Katie. They are pretty little plants.

    • Yes, I was thinking last night as attempting to thin, AGAIN: maybe I just shouldn’t have planted quite so many seeds in the first place! Geez! I’m liking your idea better! Why are there always things that need to be thinned in life?!

      • Because our minds can’t grasp the amazingness that God has for us, so we are constantly trying to create it on our own, that way it looks the way we think it should. The way that will make us happy, or make others happy or even make God happy. So we do and do and plan and create and the whole time I can just picture God shaking his head and thinking ” if they only knew what I have planned for them!”

  2. I have always had a hard time with thinning my seedlings as I want each and every one to have that chance to thrive and grow. The clutter on my entryway table and kitchen counters could use some serious thinning as well.

    • I know! I’m with ya on that! I finally dug in last night, but it was sad to see so many little sprouts have to go 😦 I’m thinking maybe next year I shouldn’t plant nearly as many seeds in the first place! Yes, I have some of that clutter in my house that needs serious thinning too. (But that’s fairly painless compared to pulling a poor innocent, growing sprout out of the ground! Ha!)

    • I finally just did it last night Cathy! After about 3 days of hemming and hawing about it, I just dug in. I’m not saying it was easy . . . but it’s done! Thanks for your ‘radical’ advice! Ha!

  3. Ahhhh…so beautifully written and I relate..there are some weeds that I have a hard time pulling because of their pretty little flowers…and coincidentally I will be planting my tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce in my new raised beds later today…all plants except the lettuce…maybe will post a photo when done!

    • Oh yes! How did your beds turn out? I finally took the water wall off one of my tomato plants last night. . . not good! I hope he makes it, he was pretty limp. I had made life too easy on him, protecting it from the sun and wind. Ah well, we shall see. Glad to hear your garden is about to take shape too!

  4. Advice from a girl who was born WITHOUT either green thumb, but who knows how to have fun….mix up a BIG batch of K-Tinis prior to the pulling to ease the pain!!

  5. I had the same issue (along with the ‘guilt’ of thinning out to save them all!) Will have to keep checking in to see how your little beauties are coming along 🙂

    • Glad to hear I’m not the only one that is sensitive to this whole ‘thinning’ thing! I went out of town for the weekend, and I feel like they grew 3 inches overnight! Wow!

    • Robyn, I was gone for the weekend and when I got back . . . I swear they had grown 2 inches! I can’t wait! If I did my calculations right, I should have radishes ready right around the 4th of July! (I found a radish dip recipe I’m dying to try!)

      • Hi my friend! I know, I’ve been a little absent lately . . . thanks for thinking of me! I believe all the major fires are under control now, and by the grace of God we did actually get some rain over the past week! Yay! And my radishes! You should see them! They’re beautiful! I picked some just last Friday and a few more last night — and even happened upon a very yummy radish dip! (maybe a future post???!) Thanks for thinking of me — hope you had an amazing 4th of July!

      • So relieved…just wanted to be sure you were safe. The dip sounds great — do post – I want recipe!! 🙂 I’m dealing with some ick in the way of my physical pain — but trying to forge forward best I can. Did not get to go out this weekend – but shot a photo of an Anthurium here at home for today’s post ~ thought of you of course while i researched the flower 🙂 hope your weekend was lovely KT!

    • Thanks! We are having an unseasonably hot summer, so I think they’re really enjoying the heat and my daily waterings. I’m hoping to have radishes ready to pick just after the 4th of July — so exciting!

  6. I absolutely delight in thinning! I bring my scissors (I have a special Fiskars small, spring-loaded variety) and a small container (to put the thinnings in). When I’m done, we put those thinnings (unwashed) on a slice of bread with whatever else I have on hand (jalepeno, avacado, tomato, apple slices) and have a “thinning sammich.”

    • Oh I love it! What a GREAT idea! I was kind of thinking as I was pulling them that it sure would be great to use them somehow and this sounds like an excellent idea! I’ll put this one to use next year! A “thinning sammich” sounds quite delightful!

      • It is — positively. Even my kids will come out with their own piece of bread with goodies on it waiting for their greens. You too will no longer see it as a chore!

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