Thinning vegetable plants can feel counterproductive to growing a vegetable garden. You've already spent plenty of time preparing your soil and nurturing seeds into plants. Now you must walk along your row of seedlings and pull some of them up. Plants that grow too closely together will choke one another out, often produce a stunted crop and are more susceptible to diseases, mold and mildew. Thinning vegetable plants helps the remaining plants reach their full potential.
Read the seed packets to determine how closely you should space your seeds when you plant them. Seed packets also list the final space needed by the mature vegetable plant. Plant seeds in drill holes and furrows, and cover them with soil.
Pull weak, broken sprouts out of the ground. Pinch off the stalks of seedlings when the plants grow so close together that pulling one would disturb the roots of the other.
Remove weaker seedlings once all the seedlings produce their first true leaves.
Remove every other juvenile plant as the space between the plants begins to fill in. Juvenile versions of vegetables like carrots and lettuce can be used in cooking, and are often more tender than their full-size versions. This last vegetable cull should provide enough space between each plant as indicated by the seed packet.
Study the tags on transplants when you purchase them in a garden center or plant nursery. Plants for transplanting often list plant spacing recommendations in their care instructions.
Place these transplants the indicated distance apart.