One for the crow.

There’s a very old rhyme variations of which have been circulating in gardening circles since at least the mid-19th century, probably much earlier in fact. And it teaches a good gardening lesson. My father taught it to me when I was a kid. There are dozens of variants, but this is the one I learned:

Four seeds in a row:
One for the mouse,
One for the crow,
One to rot,
And one to grow.

Other versions mention blackbirds, rooks, cutworms, withering, etc.

Crop Insurance

The reference is, of course, to sowing seeds and the importance of always sowing more than you actually need because, inevitably, you always lose a few.

Excessive seedlings can be thinned by pinching or cutting them at the base.

When I sow indoors, I usually sow 3 seeds for every plant I actually want. If more do grow than I need, I simply pinch off the excess ones at the base. If you’re really good with seeds, you could try sowing two rather than three.

Outdoors, where so much more can go wrong, I really do sow 4 seeds for every plant, like in the rhyme. Again, should they all come up, I thin out the extras.

I usually wait until there are 4 or more true leaves before I thin… by then any cutworms in the vicinity have had time to strike and I’ve eliminated them.20170410A

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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