In an effort to get the remaining seed crops into the vegetable garden as quickly as possible, last weekend we purchased an Earthway Precision Garden Seeder. This is a walk behind seeder that plants most common row crops with the 6 included plates and almost all row crops if you buy the 6 add-on plates. I didn’t purchase the add-on plates since they were out of stock and I think there was only one or two of the six that I would likely use. I wish I had know that this product existed several years ago.
It’s fairly easy to operate and cuts planting time by at least 75%, in my opinion.
First select the appropriate plate. This will determine the seed spacing. The plates are labeled as to what kinds of seeds each one works best for. This is based both on the size of the seed and the desired spacing between seeds. THe labels being molded into the plastic means wearing off is less of a problem. The six included plates are:
- Sweet Corn
- Radish, Leeks, Spinach
- Carrots, Lettuce, Turnips
- Beans, Small Peas
- Jumbo Peas
- Beets, Okra, Swiss Chard.
I used the bean plate to plant my soybeans and the only problem I had was with the seed not the planter. I got my seed from a smaller supplier and the sizing could have been more even.
Install the plate in the hopper. This is quite simple. You line the notched on the inner rim of the plate up with the tabs on the wheel inside the hopper and turn it until it locks in place.
Then you set the planting depth by adjusting the depth on the ground opener. The ground opener is marked in 1/4 inch increments from 1/4in to 1 1/2in and the markings are molded into the opener so they will be slow to wear off over the years.
Finally, you set the distance between the rows on the row marker. This marks your next row while you are planting and allows for spacing up to 30 inches between rows. It won’t easily mark rows less than about 8 inches apart and it’s not marked in any way so you will need to get out your tape measure if you’re planting more than one row of a vegetable. It is reversible so you can mark and plant rows in both directions across your bed.
Now you’re ready to start planting. Set the planter at the start of your first row, place the row marker on the side where your next row will be and push away down the row. The planter will open the row and plant the seed at near perfect spacing and then cover over the seed and pack it down. It is such a time and back saver, no more bending to make small holes and stick seeds in.
The only issue I’ve had so far is having the trench remain the proper depth. My garden isn’t perfectly smooth and soft so sometimes the ground opener doesn’t go in far enough and the seed is too close to the surface of the soil and then it doesn’t get covered well.
Update: I think I may have another issue with the seeder. Several reviews mentioned that seeds got stuck between the plate and the hopper destroying the seeds. A few of my soybeans jammed in the plate as I mentioned earlier but I assumed that uneven seed size was to blame. Then, I planted my carrots. Carrots seeds are tiny so I can’t say for sure why nothing grew. There was a significant amount of dust between the hopper and them plate when I was done, though. So I suspect that many of my carrot seeds were ground up instead of planted.