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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

Click here

Thinning Vegetables

Most gardeners have gone to a great deal of trouble to make sure they’ve properly prepared the soil, added the correct fertilizer nutrients and constructed the planting rows exactly as directed by bulletins obtained from the local county Extension office.

They obtain the recommended varieties, and used plants or seeds of adapted varieties. Proper seeding depth and cultural techniques are adhered to exactly as described. Their timing is precise, and Mother Nature cooperated fully. A gardening success seems unavoidable!

This is the attitude of so many well-intentioned gardening enthusiasts. Yet, with so many things going right at this stage of the game, it can still go wrong.

Gardening is very similar to life—if you're going to make a success of it, you will have to put forth a daily effort! So many gardeners literally kill themselves with the initial, physical part of gardening. When they return to the garden—three months later—they are disappointed to find very little, if any, produce. Successfully gardening is a continuing process.

Thinning vegetables is one of the gardener's most important "follow-up" tasks. Most gardeners use more seed than necessary for a good plant stand. This is a good idea since some of the seed may not germinate and grow. So those extra seeds will insure enough plants are present.

Too many plants in an area are just as bad, if not worse, as too few. The good gardener realizes that plant thinning or removal is a necessary evil to insure a successfully garden. He knows there is only so much plant food in the soil; and he must decide whether he wants many unproductive, crowded plants or a few properly spaced, maximum-producing plants. Properly spaced plants also will facilitate insect and disease control.

Gardeners know they should thin vegetables, yet it's very difficult to destroy the very plants they’ve worked so hard to grow. Remember, it is for their good as well as yours.

To make the job less painful, try a periodic thinning process. For example, if snap beans are to be thinned to four inches between plants, thin the small plants until they are two inches apart. Then allow the remaining plants to grow for a period of time until they begin to crowd. At that stage, complete the thinning process so that plants are the recommended four inches apart. This system will avoid the necessity of replanting because you initially thinned your plants to four inches and a cutworm, dog, or bird thinned them to eight or twelve inches apart!

When removing larger plants, use a knife to cut the stem at ground level. This will thin the plant population effectively and will not damage the root systems of the remaining vegetables, which will occurred if the unnecessary plants are pulled-out.

The size of the mature vegetables dictates the distance needed between plants. For example, the larger growing vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, cantaloupe, okra, squash, and tomato require 24 inches or more between plants. Smaller growing vegetables such as beans, beets, carrots, lettuce, onions, Southern peas, spinach, and turnips require only 2 to 4 inches between plants. Cultural techniques such as caging or staking can also influence the spacing of the larger growing plants.

Thinning is just one of the "follow-through" tasks which gardeners must do to insure gardening success. Others, such as weed control, insect and disease control, watering and properly timed harvesting will enable the early toils of garden preparation to pay off later with an abundance of fresh-tasting, nutritious vegetables for your family.