Thinning plants is one of those tasks that feels so hard. Here you've gone through all that effort to plant something, you've watched it grow, and now you're just supposed to, what... pull some of it up?
I don't know about you, but thinning plants to me feels like a moral dilemma: the plants you pull will die, but if you don't pull some, none of your plants will have the room they need to grow to their fullest potential.
Fortunately, I've found a way around that dilemma. I just replant the little guys I've thinned, even though most professional gardeners will tell you not to do that. It's a gamble, but I've had pretty good luck saving my plants that have fallen victim to thinning.
Let's explore how to make the most of every single one of the seeds you've planted. With any luck, you'll get extra radishes out of the deal!
why do you need to thin radishes?
Let's say you plant some French breakfast radish seeds. After waiting about a week, you get impatient that nothing's shown up yet, so you plant some more. Wouldn't you know it, but then the original seeds germinate and start to appear, followed by your second batch. Now you have double radishes.
I personally wouldn't mind being able to harvest double the radishes, but the problem is the plants themselves. They will mind when they discover they don't actually have enough space to grow.
how do you thin radishes?
To solve any little space issues, you can thin your radishes and then replant them. Ideally, radishes should be about an inch apart, so look for ones that are too close together and then pick one of those to remove and replant. I would choose the one that seems a little more spindly, a little less hardy, than its neighbor.
To remove the young radish plant, lightly pull on the leaves. If it doesn't come right out, then dig around and pull more from the root.
how do you replant thinned radishes?
Once you've pulled a couple of plants, it's time to start replanting.
Like I said, this is a gamble. Treat your thinned plants gently since you've already disturbed their roots by pulling them up. Plant them in their new location pretty deeply—right up to their crown for good soil support. Water them immediately after replanting. Then watch them over the next several days to see if they make it.
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Bottom line: You might get a new radish and you might not. But at least we're giving it a go! And perhaps easing some of the guilt that comes with thinning plants.
The trick is to have minimal root disturbance while you're getting the plants back into the ground and to avoid leaving them to sit around too long. You really want to baby them.
Once your re-homed radish babies have reached maturity, here are three signs to look for to know when they're ready to be harvested. After harvesting, you can go right in and plant more seeds. Here are five tips for growing perfect French Breakfast radishes.
I hope this encourages you to experiment in your garden and realize that you don't always have to follow traditionally accepted methods. Making your own way is what makes gardening so much fun!
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