There is an interdependence of closely placed young plants, perhaps through a sharing of water and perhaps through mutual benefits from root exudates, so avoid isolating them. Nevertheless they must not be crowded for long. If the soil is very loose and partially dry, it is possible to pull up the weaker plants in a row or in a flat or peat pot. But the best advice is not to do it. It is better to take a small pair of sharp scissors and snip off the weak and crowding plant at soil level. The remaining little plants will stay strong and grow stronger, especially if they continue their interdependence.
Most seed packets tell you what distances you should thin your plants. At first the distance always seems too great. When faced with two or three-inch plants, it seems almost wasteful to thin them to eight inches apart. But do what the packet says. They will need that space when they mature; and the resources of soil nutrients available to the young plants in an uncrowded space mean that they will grow all that much better.
Indoor Seed Planting
There are two absolute necessities for growing good little plants indoors to set out in your garden later - or perhaps route through a cold frame first and then set our in the garden. The first is to get good seeds from a good reliable seedsman (or use the very best of your own home-grown seeds). The second is to have a set-up which will provide the right warmth, moisture, air and light for little plants.
Most of the seeds you will grow for garden flowers or other ornamentals will be more or less fresh seeds, but the point is for them to be viable, or capable of germinating. Some you gather yourself you can keep for several years. The seeds of asters will keep a year or up to 13 years, depending on the variety. Bee balm seeds will remain viable for four to seven years; nasturtiums for five to eight years. If you save the seeds of azaleas, birches, deutzia, hydrangeas, mock orange, potentillas and rhododendrons, for example, you do not need to put them through a cold period, but other plants do need a cold dormancy: maple seeds should get three months of cold, either outdoors or in the refrigerator; barberry seeds need two or three months, bittersweet seeds need three months, as do flowering dogwood, ash, beech, sweetgum, tupelo and most of the members of the Prunas group, including cherries. Pine seeds need two months; spruce one to three months and apples one to three months as well.
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Article Added on Saturday, February 3, 2007
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