planted too many seeds too close together

Brisbane, Australia

As my first attempt at growing anything I've planted capsicum seeds in one pot and cherry tomato seeds in another. I wasn't very confident that I'd get them to grow so probably overcompensated with the number of seeds I planted. I now have a lot of healthy looking sprouts growing closely together in each pot.

I'm wondering when they will be strong enough to separate them and how much space they each need?

A full size pic of both are here:

capsicum - http://www.flickr.com/photos/47804780@N08/4375196338/

tomatoes - http://www.flickr.com/photos/47804780@N08/4375196114/

Thumbnail by 33shadows
Wakefield, RI

Judging by the photos the pepper seeds were planted much closer than the tomato. The general rule of thumb is to wait for the first set of true leaves to become fully expanded. I usually transplant into a cell pack 6 cells per pack and give them bottom heat. You can also use plastic drinking cups,peat pots ect. I fertilize at half strength until I am ready to put them out. I put them in a sheltered place to harden them off for about 10 days and begin fertilizing at full strength before planting in the garden. In your photos one of the tomato seedlings has a set of true leaves large enough to transplant now. The peppers grow at a slower rate than the tomatoes so true leaves will not be as quick to form.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

No problem! When they get a bit bigger and have another set of leaves on them, thin them and transplant them into individual containers. For the tomatoes, I'd use 16 oz. solo-type cups with drainage holes in the bottom and only put a couple of inches of soil in the bottom. As the tomatoes grow, continue to add soil up the stem. This encourages the stem to make more roots. Then, when you go to plant them, plant them deeper than normal and you'll have nice, strong, sturdy tomatoes.

The peppers can be transplanted into cups as well. You don't have to do them like the tomatoes.

Be careful not to pull the little babies out of the dirt by the stem. You might lose the roots that way. Gently pull them apart and you should be good to go.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I use a small plastic spoon to get the little plants out. You are not the only one with so many seedlings in a little space when you are able to give plants away you will no longer feel like a beginner. I believe we have all done it. I use peat pellets now to start seeds I plant 3-4 seeds per pellet. By doing this I don't have to touch the plants just handle the pellets. You are off to a good start.
Lisa

Brisbane, Australia

Thanks for the replies - they really help. I think I'll be planting all my seeds in cups from now on and will plant less seeds in future. If all of these seedlings survive I'm definitely going to have to rehome a good deal of them.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm winter sowing my stuff again this year. Last year, I did the "sprinkle the entire package" thing and ended up with 10,000 seedlings. This year, I've been much more deliberate and have only sown 5, 6, or 9 seeds in each jug.

Brisbane, Australia

I've just come in from a day (well most of) spent transplanting my tomato and capsicum seedlings and planting some new seeds. I think the transplant went well - of course only time will tell if they all continue to grow.

I've also planted some spinach, lettuce, strawberries, zucchini and cucumber seeds. With these I planted 4 seeds only - 2 per cup.

I'm planning on now planting more lettuce and spinach seeds every two weeks. I'm wondering about the plants that produce fruit whether there is any point in spacing the planting out every couple of weeks or will the fruit only grow when the weather is best anyway?

Also - I'm now sneezing and have a sore throat - should I maybe have been wearing a dust mask when using the potting mix?

League City, TX(Zone 9a)

I sowed about 4-5 zuchinni seeds in a plastic 1-gal milk jug a la the winter sowing method about 2-3 weeks ago. I thought that I would carve-out/ tease-out/ separate each plant when the time came. Well, I just remembered something about squash plants in general not liking to be transplanted. What have you guys found?? I went ahead an transplanted 1 plant for now so we'll see.

I've been successful transplanting squash in the past, but that was when I sowed 1 seed/ small nursery pot (the kind the individual pepper or tomato plants come in.) I think this worked because the roots weren't really disturbed, they just plopped out of the pot and into the ground.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9a)

I usually direct sow all pumpkins, squash and melons, but have successfully transplanted them as well. Just try to disturb the roots as little as possible, but I think you will be able to transplant them no problem. The smaller they are when you do the better...

League City, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks Kelly, I feel a little better about my transplant.

I also sowed muskmellon, yellow crookneck and acorn squash seeds in a similar fashion, so I will transplant those seedlings sooner rather than later. I bought a bunch of smart pots recently so they should be arriving soon!!!

Charlotte, NC

i planted lettuce that i started from seed...i had the seedilings in a miniature greenhouse and they appeared like they were not taking off, so i went ahead and put them in the ground last week. now they seem sluggish and flemsy. just wondering if i should have waited to put in the ground.

also planted sugar snaps and they are behaving similarly. i feel like i planted too early. even starting those seeds indoors. any advice or opinions please..

Amherst, NH

Beginner78: Lettuce is a cool season crop, which means it actually doesn't like it in the heat of the middle of summer. You really don't need a top on seedlings after they germinate, and it can cause diseases. With lettuce, a dome also might make it too warm for the lettuce to grow best. Lettuce gets floppy (the flimsy you mentioned?) if it doesn't get enough water.

Sugar snaps are also a cool season crop, and they like to be started outside where they'll grow. If you have more seeds, why not try again? Remember you'll need some sort of trellis, poles, string, netting - something for them to grow up. I put those up, then plant the seeds.

Good luck.

- Tricia

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