Thin out veg seedlings once they get big enough to start crowding each other to make sure you keep them happy and healthy as they grow.
You can sow seeds direct into shallow drills in the garden from April onwards. Keep sowing new rows each month right through summer and you’ll have a steady supply of delicious fresh-harvested veg to see you well into autumn. Pop into the garden centre here in London and browse our mouth-watering range of veg seed to see what takes your fancy: vegs you can sow now include carrots, beetroot, radish, salads, peas, beans and calabrese.
However sparingly you sprinkle the seed, though, it’s impossible to sow them at the perfect spacing first time. You probably wouldn't want to anyway, as you often need spares: even if you're lucky enough to get 100% germination, slugs, mice and good old British weather are lined up waiting to do in emerging seedlings.
If a good number of seedlings survive, though, there comes a time when they're starting to crowd each other out and compete for water and nutrients. This is the time to thin them out, removing unwanted seedlings to leave the ideal amount of space between each plant.
Choose the largest, sturdiest seedlings to keep, and remove the rest. They're easy to pull up, but if there's a danger they may disturb the roots of the remaining seedlings pinch them out between thumb and forefinger at ground level.
You don't have to do your thinning all at once, though. Some crops, like carrots, provide an extra mini-harvest if you thin gradually: pull every other seedling, then once they've grown a little more and their shoulders are touching, repeat, until you reach the final spacing of around 5cm between roots. You'll soon be pulling up exquisite baby carrots, incredibly sweet and tender scattered raw in salads.