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Know your Veg
Recommended equipment
Gently Does It Very Handy Pest Control  

Clean pots and trays to move young seedlings into such a combi pack 2 or 3.

Compost suitable for use by seeds and young plants

Seed labels and waterproof pen.

Budding Gardener Childrens Tools to make planting holes

Slug deterrent such as copper tape or biological pest control.

Watering can with a fine rose


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Why Do It?
Pricking out means moving young seedlings grown close together in a seed tray or pot, into a larger growing container. It is essential to do this. If seeds are not pricked out, they will not do well.

Seeds grown closely together will become leggy. This means they will develop thin, white stems and lots of leafy growth. The stems are not strong enough to support the leaves and keel over easily.
Hints and Tips
• Cover the table or surface you are going to use with newspaper. Pricking out can be a messy job.

• Water the containers filled with seedlings which are going to be pricked out.

• Fill the new containers with compost.

• Using your forefinger or a fine dibber make holes in the compost at regular intervals.

• The number of intervals will depend on the size of the container and how many seedlings are going to be grown in it. If you are using a pack of modules, aim for one plant per module. A large pot might be suitable for two or three seedlings.

• Using a fine dibber very gently ease out a few seedlings at a time from their home.

• Pick up each seedling in turn by one of its lowest leaves. Do not handle it by the stem. If the stem is broken the seedling will die.

• Gently put the seedling root first into a hole in one of the new containers.

• Put the seedling in deeply so that the first pair of leaves rests on the surface of the compost.

• Firm the compost around the seedling carefully with your fingers.

• Add labels to the trays or pots as you go for easy identification.

• Repeat this exercise until all the seedlings in the tray have been replanted.

• Beware of slugs. Use a deterrent such as copper tape or biological pest control to ensure they don’t feast on your plants.  

• Water well. Leave the seedlings to settle down into their new home.
Thinning Out
Thinning out is a similar task which is carried out where seeds are planted in the ground. It can be carried out soon after germination, or later on when crops are growing. It has two aims:

1. To ease overcrowded rows of vegetables.

2. To remove weaker seedlings so as to give stronger seedlings more room to grow.

When thinning out:
  • Water the crops well before starting to thin out.

  • Use fingers and a dibber to gently remove seedlings.

  • If you have space, make holes in the soil with a dibber and create another row of crops using the thinned seedlings.

  • If thinning carrots do not leave any thinnings on the ground. The smell of the damaged foliage can attract carrot fly - which will attack the crop and damage the roots.

  • Young plants such as beetroot or carrots can also be removed when the roots are beginning to form so as to provide a selection of baby vegetables. This will thin out rows, giving more space to other vegetables as they grow larger.
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