Tips for more efficient small-scale direct seeding

tbronson(4)March 14, 2005

Does anyone have tips on direct seeding for veggies -- I'm trying to save work and save seed?! I'm up to two acres of mixed veggies this year, mostly hand work, and my seed bill is getting to the point where using less seed would mean decent savings. And more accurate seeding means less thinning! So far, I've been using the Earthway seeder for most direct seeding, and hand sowing wider spaced crops like squash and melons.

A couple things I want to try this year:

- Using plastic tubing of different diameters to drop seed from a standing position. I read about this for things like beans, but even seed potatoes could work. (I saw a couple of stick/jab planters for larger seed in the Johnny's catalog. Do these work well, better than a tube?)

- For carrots and beets, I tried the light plate for the Earthway mid-season last year. It seemed a bit too thin, uneven germination, but that could've been the watering and weather as well. I'll try lighter plates again, but in spring.

Any ideas would be great!

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I spoke with someone who grows a lot of carrots about this. She said to make two or even three passes with the Earthway seeder. I did this last year using the plate labeled for carrots and for me two passes was just about right. I do have a nice clay loam that holds the moisture well so I get good germination. I imagine three passes would be about right for some other folks. I haven't used the Earthway for beets but I'd like to this Spring.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2005 at 8:35PM
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Colorado_west(z5 W Co)

I am not planting on the scale you are. Last year 1/2 acre and I guess be like 3/4 this year as broke more land to plant. I presume with all you planting that your seed is bulk. I buy from seed house. They do cut off some on larger amounts as I am market gardener. I grow my own plants as that is big savings. My main crop is tomatoes and then peppers and so on. The new land will go into melons mostly. I hand seed in beans, onion sets, corn, squash and peas and will melons. I did no thinning. I make a furrow for seed and put in fertilizer and drop the seed, and cover. I use an old push plow to make the seed rows and to cover. It has a small turning plow type blade on it. It is two wheels and as I said old bought back in the 30's. Bigger wheel in front and smaller behind and the blade between the wheels can be set higher or lower. I have a one wheel 3 HP cutilvator that I may replace it with if get it running. At this time I use a push plow. If I take longer with seeding I am not botherd with thinning. Today I am planting potatoes. I have no idea what those tubes are and have not used a jab seeder. I mark my rows and take the tiller in and make a furrow for the potatoes to go in. Book says fertilize will burn them so not get any on the seed potatoes. l0-l0-l0 will it said. I am debating this morning which way to do it. Last year side dressed but need it the the row now. I did the furrows last evening and I am couple weeks late plant due to wet weather. On the seed I put the irrigation ditch in and the the seed furrow on down side of it . I toss the dirt away from irrigation ditch for furrow and then come back and toss it in the furrow. This way my seeds are close to the irrigation. The potates I will go up one side and back the other and toss dirt over them from both sides to get enough. Then go back in and put in irrigation ditches. I have stakes up the potato rows so can ditch and till. I have learned to not cover the seeds too deep. I have hesitated to put on this answer as I doubt it would be a help. I do not have a push seeder. Here we irrigate to grow anything. I have valve and gated pipe and ditches in the garden to water. That pipe has saved a lot of work but I have about l2 # pressure. I sell here at the farmers' market. Just me to do it. I ditch and then set the plants on the down side of the ditches. I have been trying to come up with a faster way to get plants in. Or at least cut the planting time. I am sure faster ways to plant then I am doing. With what I have it is best I can do.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 10:05AM
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Lee True Hulcher

I plant about 70,000 carrots a year. I make two passes with my tiller 8HRS troybult 30" wide. I then use my earthway seeder with the carrot plate on it to make 6 -2" rows. I run the seeder over each row twice. I very rarely ever have to thin.
However what I do is, I let the carrots stand until there are some that are ready to harvest for baby carrots.
I worked hard to find a chef who liked to use these little guys. And the funny thing is, I sell the baby's for double the price of the larger carrots.
Now all I need is a market for the Red Dragon Carrots. LOL

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 11:07AM
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The Planet Jr. with a series of plastic plates has worked well for most seed. When I'm using fine seed, like basil or carrots I use a "diluter" seed consisting of a baked seed from my local bulk food grocer. Poppy seed is fine for basils, mustard seed is good for all cole crops, celery seed for carrots,etc. Just make sure to bake the seed diluter slightly to prevent it from germinating. Whatever they use to irradiate the seed doesn't always prevent germination. I found out the hard way. Keep the diluter seed handy when you plant and mix it according to preference or trial and error.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 11:17AM
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For carrots, I used to have the same problems, T bronson - "too thin, uneven germination." And, yes, "that could've been the watering and weather" since tiny carrot seed requires so much time for germination. In our rapidly draining soil, there's often just too much time for dryness to enter the equation and render poor germination results.

We don't grow a great deal of carrots but pelleted seed has made all the difference in the world. The margin of error is just reduced enormously.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 12:29PM
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johnnys sells a peletted plate for the earthway seeder for carrots. its not in the catalog, you have to ask for it. i had a stand last year of 85,000 carrots all 1.5 inches apart. it is truly an amazing thing to see.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 7:19PM
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