Don’t Crowd Your Vegetable Seeds

Thickly sown vegetable seeds cause many disappointments in home gardening.

The seedlings often come up so crowded that none has a chance for average growth unless the rows are thinned laboriously, often during the week or so after the appearance of the first sprouts.

dont crowd vegetable seedsPin

If there has been a delay of only a week or 10 days in thinning young seedlings, those that survive to become the crop are sure to be spindly and lacking in vigor. 

They have been stretching skyward in their competition with others for sunlight and have been denied the stamina and sturdiness for normal growth.

Moreover, the lack of good ventilation at the base of crowded seedlings provides ideal conditions for invisible but always present and potentially destructive clamp-off germs. 

These cannot get a start where seedlings enjoy adequate ventilation and sunlight around their feet.

So for the good of the garden and the gardener alike, it is essential to sow enough seeds to get a good stand, yet avoid wasteful use.

It may reassure home gardeners who patronize mail-order seed houses and garden centers to learn that veteran commercial vegetable growers look for quality in the seeds they buy, with price a distinctly secondary consideration.

Making Good Roots For Germination

Experienced commercial gardeners have learned through necessity how to make good roots go as far as they should produce good crops with little or no need for laborious thinning of crowded seedlings.

Likewise, home gardeners should buy the most reputable seeds available and sow them with discretion.

An acreage of carrots that have come up as crowded as we see carrot seedlings in some home gardens would prove a total loss to a truck gardener.

He couldn’t afford the hand labor necessary to correct the situation in competition with better-managed commercial acreages.

Nor are commercial growers extremely choosy about germinating seeds of good reputation that they buy. They know that national, state and Canadian regulations require that roots in commerce meet satisfactory minimum germination standards.

Percentage Of Germinated Carrot Seeds

The capacity to germinate 55% percent under reasonably favorable conditions is necessary for carrots by all regulatory agencies. 

This is a reasonable standard compared with most vegetables because even some of the best-grown carrot seed crops may not exceed this percentage under growing conditions that sometimes prevail.

However, it is not unusual for carrot seeds to grow 70% to 80% percent in approved tests. Therefore, experienced gardeners regulate their seeding rates accordingly, maybe as few as 15 seeds per foot of row or as many as 25.

However, home gardeners who sow carrot seeds at the sometimes recommended rate of an ounce per 100′ feet of the row are sure to be planting them at a rate of 160 grains or more per foot since there are at least 16,000 carrot seeds in an ounce.

Even if only 25% percent of them germinated, the gardener would have 40 seedlings per foot, a crowded population requiring prompt and drastic thinning.

This discussion of carrot seeds in home gardens is intended to justify to beginning gardeners our table of suggested planting rates for seeds of garden vegetables in general.

Most vegetable seeds are more significant than carrots, but advocated rates are based on other plant characteristics, such as the growth habit, for this affects space requirements.

44659 by Gordon Morrison