Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thinning Out Tomato Seedlings

Even though winter won't completely loosen its grip on us in the Midwest, Spring is in the air!  I have somewhat of a schedule that I follow every year when it comes to starting my seeds, and this year has been a little different. Sprouting seeds requires a little warmer temperature then I am able to provide out in my greenhouse, so I typically start them off inside in a mini greenhouse setup that I have by a south facing window.  Once the seeds have germinated, I usually wait until the seedlings get their second set of leaves before moving them out into the greenhouse.  This year however has been a little challenging.  The lack of sunlight inside has been causing some of my plants to become leggy.  Fortunately it is very difficult to kill a tomato plant so I have been putting my seedlings out in the greenhouse under the grow lights a little sooner than I normally would and they have been doing fine.    The joys of gardening... 

I decided to snap a few pictures as I relocated one of the tomato flats and my thinning process in hopes it may help someone out.

Tomato seedlings that need to be separated. 

With a bbq skewer, lightly lift up from the bottom to loosen the cell a little. 

Make a new hole for you relocated tomato seedling.

When handling tomato seedlings, do so by the first set of leaves to grow.
The plant will eventually lose these anyways. 

Place tomato seedling into its own cell. 

Lightly fill in the hole with your mix. 

Water in the tomato seedlings to ensure the growing mix fills in around
the roots.

Do not let your tomato plants get to large of a root ball.  Try to be a step
ahead and replant into larger containers or outside before
they completely fill out the containers they are in.

Let me know how your seedling are doing this year or if you had to make any changes due to the weather.  If you have any questions, feel free to also post those below in the comment section and someone will help you out.

Cheers! ~ Kevin


  1. I've heard mixed reviews on transplanting seedlings, and I'm wondering if tomatoes are heartier to transplant? Some people have cautioned me from separating seedlings to multiple pots, and say it's better to just clip the weaker seedlings. I don't want to waste seedlings, but I also don't want to disturb or injure the roots! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as I'm a newer gardener :)

    1. Hi Caitlin! Let me just start by saying it is very very very difficult to kill a tomato plant. I have had very good success transplanting tomato seedlings and so should you. When the time comes to transplant, remember to plant deep (dirt up to the first set of leaves). All of the hairs you see on the stem of your tomato plant, when buried will grow to become extra roots leading to a much more vigorous plant. Best wishes!!


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