Thinning seedlings in your vegetable garden can be one of the most difficult jobs to do because it can feel like you’re killing the very seedlings you worked so hard to grow.
Thinning creates more space in the ground for the edible roots to form to their full size. If you don’t thin your root crops while they’re little, your harvest will suffer.
In general, you should thin your root crops to one seedling every few inches. Make sure to hold the plant from the base, just at soil level. Pull firmly to dislodge the root from the soil. Make sure to re-mound soil around the roots of the remaining seedlings to prevent any sun exposure and damage.
You may be able to transplant some of the seedlings if you are careful not to disturb the roots too much when you move them.
If you wait until your beet, rutabaga, and turnip greens are a few inches tall before you thin them, you can eat them, baby roots included.
Note: Carrots are especially hard to transplant because you have to be sure they are straight when you replant them, otherwise the roots will grow funky and crooked. Read more about thinning carrots here.