Now I have gone and done it : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

My seedlings that sprouted from seeds last week had to many sprouts in on spot, so I got up early this morning and thinned them. I thought I was careful in removing the extras. I had several "hills" too close together so I dug down past the roots and took out the entire hill and put them in a new place. Still had too many seedlings so I removed all but two or three in each hill. All of these plants are cucumbers and two kinds of squash. I watered each hill with a cup or so of water, it was getting on to 8:00 am at this point and I didn't want to get the leaves wet. Now they are all laying over and looking pretty pathetic. The only this that is still standing up nice and strong are the things I didn't bother. Do you think I have killed them? I planted the seeds less than two weeks ago and they were all doing so well, even with the ants that had been in them and the ants seemed to have deminished. When my son helped me plant the seeds he put too many in each hill. Should I wait a few days and if some of the hills are kaput, should I just replant? Thanks for any suggestions.


-- Judy Murray (, May 28, 2000


Poor Judy, you really are having all sorts of problems. It seems that you were extra careful moving the seedlings, so I wouldn't give up hope yet. What I would do is make sure they were well shaded, well watered and protected from the wind. If you have some wood shingles, heavy cardboard, or something of that nature, stick it firmly in the ground on the upwind side of the seedlings. Let it tilt over a bit to provide some shade. It doesn't have to be a shingle, just get some sun and wind protection on them.

Since your seeds were planted so recently, I'm assuming you only had seed leaves. This is a very fragile time for seedlings and it is easy to crush their stems. But they've still got a chance to make it with some care. If some don't, you'll have time to replant most crops. Wait a few days and see what happens. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, May 28, 2000.

Sounds like they just went into shock. Give them a few days.

-- Amber (, May 29, 2000.

Cucumbers do not like to be transplanted so it is always best to limit the number of seeds that you get in each hill so you won't have to transplant. BUT, having said that, I also have raised cucumbers from seed in pots to sell for our greenhouse business and this required putting them in bigger pots and we did it very successfully. You just have to be careful in handling them and it sounds like you were very careful. I would not give up on them yet. They are probably just recovering from the shock and will perk up in a couple of days.

-- Colleen (, May 29, 2000.

Thanks everyone for your input. It made my day this morning when I looked out my kitchen window and all my little plant babies had perked back up, even the squash ones that most of the leaves had shriveled up. The cucumbers were truely standing at attention. This was my first venture in gardening and I am learning by trial and error already. I planted, or rather my sons helped me plant, and we definitely put too many seeds in one spot. Now I have to deal with the cherry tomatoes that we planted. One "hill" has about ten shoots coming up. Should I snip, snip all but one or leave two? And I definitely have too many "hills" in one tire. If I dig down really deep and bring out the whole "hill" and put it in another tire, and then thin, would that be the right thing to do? I am so greatful for all the suggestions and help. I am really operating with no experience and apparently it is not an innate ability that I have.


-- Judy Murray (, May 29, 2000.

Personally I always plant too many on purpose. I know it's wastefully but I don't have a natural green thumb either. First thinning - I leave at least three. Then in a couple weeks I'll snip back to the strongest plant. Just snip off with your fingernails at ground level - that won't disturb the other roots and make them go into shock.

-- Deborah (, May 29, 2000.

Judy, you'll probably end up with the best garden of any of us! You could carefully lift a hill and transfer it to another tire. I'd wait a bit before thinning it because the plants you think will make it and the plants you're sure will die are usually reversed. Your purchased soil is an advantage with all this since it should be good and loose.

I'd move the plants as soon as possible to make it easier on them. You might want to consider having your son plant seeds you hand him-ie three tomato seeds right there. You can mix fine seeds with sand or something like that and any given handful will automatically be somewhat spaced. You might also see if your library has Mel Bartholomew's (spelling?) book Square Foot Gardening. Each tire could be treated as a square foot and you could challenge your son to plant a certain amount of seeds in an area. He could also be challenged to make a controlled-by-mom amount of seeds stretch to fill a certain area. It is also a big help if you take the seeds out of their packets and put them in a bowl or on a saucer. Even us grownups have problems controlling seed flow out of packets. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, May 29, 2000.

Tomatoes on the other hand, can take a lot of abuse. If you have some space, you may want to dig the clump of ten up with a shovel and then with your hands pull the plants apart and replant them where you want them. When you replant them, dig a little trench and bury the tomato plant laying down in the trench and then have the top of it turn at a 90 degree angle and stick up above the ground. Do it carefully so you don't break the stem but they really are quite flexible. Having a long portion of the stem below ground will allow for a greater root system and make a healthier plant. You should also mulch these plants because they do better if they have even moisture throughout their growing season. The tire will keep them warm which tomatoes like so you should have a nice crop. Hope this helps.

-- Colleen (, May 30, 2000.

Thanks everyone for your help, the cherry tomato seedlings are at most 4 inches and that is just the hill with all the seedlings. It seems like they are not quite tall enough to plant much of the stem in a trench. I am probably going to have to sacrifice some of the plants when I transplant because I am running out of tire garden space. But I will try to hang on to as many as I can. Son honey that helped is actually 23, he did ask me what to do and since I didn't know any more than he did I just told him to do what he thought might work. That's a good idea to take the seeds out of the packet to help control them.

My cucumbers and squash plants are hanging in there. Some of the leaves on a couple of the transplanted ones did not come back out but the stem is stand up straight and tall and it kind of looks like a new leaf is peeking through.

Thanks again for all your help.


-- Judy Murray (, May 30, 2000.

As long as you don't crush the stems, or tear off all the roots, your transplants should do fine. They can grow new leaves, but not new stems. Don't worry about making mistakes -- that's how you learn! Even someone who's been gardening for fifty years still has things to learn!

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, May 30, 2000.

Make sure that after you transplant you tomatoes you give them a strong stake to grow on. This makes for easier picking and it looks much nicer. Tomatoes are hardy and you will notice that once you plant you should have "volunteer" plants next season.

-- Amber (, May 31, 2000.

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