Part 6 - Routine Jobs

Plants know what they need to do to become food. Our job is to make sure nothing gets in their way.

Routine Jobs

Time is one of the biggest obstacles people face when setting out to grow food. It may seem like a lot of work, but getting into a regular weekly routine makes these small jobs quicker, easier and ultimately part of the joy of growing.


  • Thinning:
    • Thin your salad leaves (rocket and oriental greens) down so that there is a 3cm gap between seedlings, if you want to aim for two or more harvests from them.
    • Leave the salad leaves alone for one large harvest.
    • Thin radishes to 3cm between each seedling.
    • Thin spinach to 10cm between seedlings for now.
    • Harvest all the leaves you’re thinning as you go for a microgreens salad.
  • Weeding:
    • Remove weeds between rows of carrot seedlings, ideally with a hoe.
    • Remove weeds within carrot rows with a more precise tool, like a hand-hoe, trowel or your own hand.
    • Thin carrot seedlings as you remove weeds within the row, leaving 5cm between each one.
  • Supporting:
    • Make sure to get supports in for your peas before they grow taller than 20cm.
    • Use branches, bamboo canes or something upcycled as supports for your peas.

Top Tips

  • Thinning:
    • Think of thinning as the reverse of transplanting. Rather than plant out to the exact spacing, we are cutting our seedling back to leave them in the right final spacing.
    • Typically, thinning should be done after 3-4 weeks.
    • Don’t thin too early when your seedlings are still fragile. This runs the risk of a pest coming and destroying your whole crop when it’s most vulnerable.
    • Don’t thin too late as plants will bolt if they are competing too much for space. This means they go straight to seed rather than producing food.
  • Weeding:
    • Weeds compete with seedlings for water and nutrients from the soil.
    • Remove weeds when they’re small. Once they become established, they are a much bigger problem.
    • Make sure your carrot seedlings are clearly identifiable as carrots by their leaves before you start weeding.
  • Supporting:
    • Pea supports should be at least 4 foot tall and bear in mind that you can’t change them later.
    • Supports are not needed for each individual plant, but should be no more than 1 foot apart.


Helpful Resources

· Watch back on earlier episodes of How Food Grows

· Explore individual veg in more detail at GIY Veg Directory

· Explore the GIY online shop for seeds, GROWBoxes, books and more.

· Join the GIYers Facebook group to ask and answer questions with fellow growers around Ireland and the world.



GIY is grateful for the support of our Growth Fund partners Social Innovation Fund Ireland and The Department of Rural & Community Development, whose funding has enabled us to promote and disseminate this online course, engaging thousands of people in How Food Grows.​