Jan 112009

FarmArt Six-Row Seeder

Based on a first-hand recommendation, and a fair bit of experience with uneven mesclun seeding, and endless carrot thinning (all thanks to the the less-than-precise Earthway seeder), I’m up for one of these! The FarmArt Six-Row Seeder is sold through the well-known US seed house, Johnny’s Selected Seed. From the web site blurb: “Up to six rows can be planted at once with 2 1/4″ spacing between rows. A roller in front firms and levels the soil. One in the back closes the furrows and drives the seed shaft. Four hole sizes are provided for seeds from raw carrots through pelleted lettuce. Three different drive ratios give spacing within the rows of 1″, 2″, or 4″.” This covers all the spacings I can think of for carrots, mesclun and other salad greens, green onions,… By using only some of the six hoppers, you can get row spacings of 4½”, 6¾”, 9″ or 11¼”. According to the brochure, “This design arose from Eliot Coleman’s experience with pinpoint seeders, customer feedback to Johnny’s, and design and development work by Art Haines of FarmArt,” which also sounds good, as in, practical! The only problem is, at $549, it’s a bit of an investment for my 2-acre scale of tiny farming, especially since I also want to try the equally recommended Jang seeder

Nov 082008

Jang AP-1 seeder

The Jang AP-1 single-row hand seeder has gotten a couple of rave reviews, here and in Tiny Farm Forum. It apparently way outclasses the Earthway, although (or, at only) about triple the price: $365US. It plants from small to large seeds (basil, carrots and lettuce, to beans, peas and corn). Also available in 3- and 6-row configurations. I haven’t tried it, but it seems like a must-purchase for increased accuracy and reduced seed use, adding up to much less thinning and cash savings. Available in the US from Mechanical Transplanter and in Canada from Willsie Equipment Sales.

Jan 282008

EarthWay Precision Seeder
In North America, at least, the EarthWay Precision Seeder is in a class of its own. This is in good part due to the fact that it’s also the only seeder in its price range… Inexpensive at around $100US, it’s widely used in market gardens and nurseries, and probably larger home gardens as well. I’ve used one for five seasons (with no breakdowns, no repairs!). For direct seeding, for me it’s either the Earthway or by hand.

It certainly works well enough to get the job done, but it also has its drawbacks and requires quite a lot of getting used to. It can be a huge seed-waster, dropping more seed than necessary. It’s also prone to clogging and skipping depending on the type of seed. And you have to get used to it. For example, for bigger seed, I listen for the regular click of the seed going down the chute, and for all seed, I watch to see the seed hit the ground (you get used to it, you can even spot tiny carrot seed! :). So, it takes a fair bit of familiarity to use efficiently.

For a long while, a couple of decades at least, it was the only inexpensive seeder around that could take on bigger tasks. In recent years (maybe the last five), other single-row push seeders have appeared. They’re apparently more accurat, also, more expensive, but in the $500-1,000 range that makes economic sense for the market grower on probably half an acre or more, paying back through savings in seed and thinning time.

All that said, it’s still a useful machine at a great price.

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Nov 182007

Saalet Seed Master

An inexpensive seeder, probably best for very small gardens, given the size of the seed container. It opens the furrow, drops the seed, covers it up. Comes with six seed plates. Doesn’t seem nearly as versatile as the Earthway, but perhaps has a specialty use in the larger veggie garden. It’s made in Europe.

Company website: Saalet
Buy online: Vesey’s