The Q&A Archives: Thinning Seedlings

Question: I want to have a vegetable garden, but because of my circumstances I have to do it in pots. I was planting some green onion seeds when my four year old said "Is this enough?" I turned to see that he had poured a bunch of leaf lettuce seeds in a five inch pot. I scooped out a handful of dirt and seeds and put them in another five inch pot. That was all I had available. Right now I have two 5" pots full of lettuce starts. What do I need to do with them? Do I really have to kill most of those plants? Can they be transplanted? Is a five inch pot large enough to grow one plant? Thank you for your help.

Answer: A five inch pot, even with just one lettuce plant, will dry out pretty quickly, so you'll need to keep a close eye on it and water it regularly. If you can maintain even moisture, you should be able to harvest some leaves. A larger pot would be better, though. I wouldn't keep more than one lettuce plant in a 5" pot. You can try transplanting the lettuce seedlings--but you'll have to do so very gently. It would be easier to get another pack of seeds and start over, and simply snip off all but one of the lettuce seedlings in the current pots. But I know that's hard to do!

Remember that lettuce generally prefers cool temperatures, and will bolt to seed in hot, dry weather. Try to keep the plants in a cool spot, out of the mid-day heat and strong sunlight.

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