Seed Planters for Your Plot

New old-style walk-behind seeders will save on labor and seed.

| Spring 2018

  • Cole Planet Jr. Push Seeder
    The Cole Planet Jr. Push Seeder is a well-built professional-grade tool that works well for larger garden plots.
    Photo from Cole Planet Jr.
  • Earthway 1001-B Precision Garden Seeder
    The Earthway 1001-B Precision Garden Seeder is a good starter planter available at a relatively low cost.
    Photo by Earthway
  •  Hoss Garden Seeder
    The Hoss Garden Seeder is a robust tool with a large-diameter drive wheel that makes this seeder more forgiving of tougher soils than the Hoss Seeder Attachment mounted on a Hoss wheel hoe.
    Photo by Caroline Horne Photography
  •  Stand ’N Plant Seeder
    The Stand ’N Plant Seeder can help save your knees and back while planting individual seeds or small plants, such as onions.
    Russell Mullin
  • Jang JP-1 is a versatile seeder
    The Jang JP-1 is a versatile seeder that is well-qualified for larger garden plots.

  • Cole Planet Jr. Push Seeder
  • Earthway 1001-B Precision Garden Seeder
  •  Hoss Garden Seeder
  •  Stand ’N Plant Seeder
  • Jang JP-1 is a versatile seeder

As much as I anticipate working the soil each spring and planting the garden, when it comes time to actually set seed in the ground, I’m glad I now have a collection of sowing tools that makes the work easier and helps save precious seed. My gardens are fairly large, and when it comes to sowing a quarter-acre or more of corn or fodder peas, a heavy-duty walk-behind plate planter fills the bill. When sowing smaller seed in the vegetable garden, we have a couple of light-duty and inexpensive planters to choose from. And for sowing corn, beans, or squash in hills, we have antique and modern versions of the stab-style single-seed planters.

Types of Seed Planters

Sharpened sticks, antler tines, and even flaked rocks were among the earliest sowing tools that were used much like we use a modern dibble (dibber in some references) to open holes in the soil to a particular depth, into which we drop a seed — or several seeds, planter style. For some crops, those sticks or antler tines were used to open up shallow furrows (drills) into which seed was dispensed more hastily and heavily to yield thick stands.

In today’s terms, a seed planter is a precision machine that places individual seeds at a specific spacing along a row. As the planter moves along the row, it opens the soil to a specific depth, places the seed, covers the seed, and provides some means for pressing the soil into contact with the seed. Walk-behind planters generally have a wheel in front that drives the seed-metering mechanism (a wedge-like structure called the shoe) that opens a furrow and helps convey the seed to the soil. This style of planter also often features a closing device that pulls the soil back over the seed (chains, discs, etc.) and a press wheel at the rear that ensures good seed-soil contact, which is needed for efficient germination.

The stab planter is quite a bit simpler than the walk-behind unit in that it consists of an opener/seed delivery tube and some kind of seed metering capability — sometimes as simple as the operator dropping the individual seeds into the tube. Closing and pressing are generally taken care of by the operator’s foot. Simple as it sounds, much of corn country was planted with such devices shortly after the sod was broken.

The modern drill, like the planter, can be a precision machine, but early drills were much less so. The drill is so-named because it opens small, shallow furrows (called drills) in the soil and places a fairly continuous flow of seed into that furrow through tubes that terminate just behind the openers. Early drills offered precision seed placement when compared with simply broadcasting seed over the soil, and they initially became popular for planting small grains because it was easy to plant those seeds in drills spaced very close to one another, creating a solid stand of grain that required no cultivating under ideal conditions. Today’s drills are really every bit as precise with seed placement as a planter and can be outfitted for use with most crops.

For the homesteader, gardener, and micro-scale small-grains grower, hand planters will likely be used to more advantage than old-style hand drills (if you can find one) under most conditions. (Some may argue with this statement, but the planter can be more readily adapted to sow small grains than the other way around.)

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