Thinning plants in the garden has always been difficult for me. I’ve just never been comfortable pulling up perfectly healthy seedlings. It just feels wrong.
But even though I can be hard-headed about it, thinning is essential to growing healthy productive plants. Plants need room to grow and they need to be free from close-quarters competition. After thinning you can often see the beneficial results within just a day or two. The surviving plants quickly fill the gaps and grow much faster than they did when crowded with competitors.
Sometimes the thinnings go to the compost pile, but whenever possible they go to our kitchen instead.
Last week I thinned out the beets and the chard. Some of the chard thinnings ended up in delicious soup (along with spring garlic a/k/a garlic thinnings). The rest ended up in some awesome salads.
I don’t enjoy thinning, but I do enjoy the benefits of it.