A couple of weeks ago, some of you may have seen me out by the blueberries walking up and down the fields pushing something that looked like a cross between a manual push mower and a bicycle. I was using a Planet Junior manual push seeder, which is used on many farms at our scale and smaller in order to seed certain crops directly into the ground rather than starting them in the greenhouse.
There are many kinds of seeders out there to help meet different farmer’s needs. Some push seeders can seed three or six rows at once and are extremely precise when dropping seed which can help reduce the need for thinning. The one I was using seeds one row at a time, but I was able to seed carrots, beans, arugula, radishes, and turnips in just a couple of hours.
The reasons for seeding certain crops directly into the ground differs slightly depending on what you are seeding. When we plant arugula, for instance, we want many seeds per inch since arugula can grow very close to each other. If we seeded all the plants we wanted in the greenhouse, we would run out of table space very quickly. Other crops that have a long tap root, like carrots and turnips, do not like their roots disturbed once they’ve germinated. The transplanting process from the greenhouse into the ground would be too shocking and could compromise the entire plant. Placing the seed directly into the ground optimizes its chances of germination and survival.
There are several important things to remember when using a manual push seeder. Depending on the seed I am using, I may need to make adjustments to insure I am making good soil-seed contact, that the seed is going into the ground at the desired depth, and that I am dropping the right amount of seed. To help you get a better idea of how is works, I’ve added a link to a video of a farmer reviewing three different push seeders. The one I was using has a few differences, but the basic mechanics and operation are the same. Happy watching!