Recommendations for Optimal Use of a Garden Seeder

Richard L. Parish  |  11/22/2004 11:58:03 PM

Figure 1. Example of plate with every other hole blocked by masking tape.

A garden seeder can be a tremendous aid in planting a vegetable garden.

With a seeder, you can stand and walk along the row pushing a seeder instead of having to make a furrow with a hoe, going back along the row bent over dropping seeds, and then covering and packing the row. Although several versions of seeders are available, the most common of the reasonably priced is made by Earthway and sells for less than $100.

This seeder comes with six metering plates. Five more optional plates can be purchased to add versatility. Each carries a recommendation for one or more vegetables, but our testing has shown that those recommendations are not always optimal.

The Earthway is not a precision seeder but is a good value for the price. Few of the vegetable seeds are singulated perfectly; there were many skips and/or doubles and multiples. In many cases, thinning will be necessary. In a home garden, when it is not possible to meter the seeds perfectly, it is preferable to overseed slightly and thin, rather than ending up with too few plants.

The table shows our recommendations for obtaining the best seeding performance with several vegetables in the Earthway seeder. The table refers to the plates by number rather than name since more than one plate may carry the name of some vegetables. The recommendations involve using the plate recommended by Earthway, or using an alternate plate, or closing off some of the holes in the plate with masking tape (Figure 1). 

Vegetable Plate No. Modifications Average Seed Spacing (inches) Comments
Beet 22 Use every other hole 1.2 Mostly multiples; will need thinning
Broccoli 24 Block 3 of every 4 holes 3.5 Correct seeding
Cabbage 9 Use every hole 4.0 Correct seeding
Cantaloupe 26 Use every hole 5.9 Will probably need thinning
Carrot 24 Block every other hole 0.9 Will need thinning
Cucumber 26 Use every hole 4.1 A little heavy; few skips, many multiples; may need thinning
English pea 14 Use every hole 2.9 Correct seeding
Lima bean 27 Use every hole 4.1 Somewhat erratic, but OK; different varieties will perform differently due to seed size
Mustard 24 Block 2 of every 3 holes 1.0 Correct seeding
Okra 29 Use every hole 7.2 Somewhat erratic spacing
Onion -- green 10 Use every hole 1.4 OK for green onions; too heavy for bulbing onions
Onion -- bulbing 24 Use every hole 1.9 OK for bulbing onions, but holes tend to plug with seeds; may need to clean out plate on long rows
Radish 5 Use every hole 1.7 Correct seeding
Snapbean 14 Use every hole 4.7 Correct seeding
Spinach 5 Use every hole 3.2 Correct seeding
Southernpea 22 Use every hole 4.1 Correct seeding
Squash 26 Use every hole 11.3 Correct seeding with small-seeded squash (yellow summer); other varieties (zucchini) may be different
Sweetcorn -- large-seeded 14 Block every other hole 3.0-5.5 May need thinning
Sweetcorn -- small-seeded 18 Block 2 of every 3 holes 3.9 May need thinning
Turnip 24 Block 2 of every 3 holes 2.2 OK for root turnips

Although the Earthway seeder does not guarantee perfect seed spacing, it can save you a lot of effort and perhaps prevent a backache while providing seed metering that is adequate for a home garden.

Recommendations for Optimal Use of a Garden Seeder
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