Sep 252011

Dramm 1000PL Redhead Water Breakers

The fantastic classic Redhead water breaker has been expanded into a line, with new narrow and wide spray pattern versions available in addition to the standard in red. The Redhead line also has a new color-coded look.

From the Dramm site: “Dramm introduces our new Orange Wide Pattern 1000PL and Green Narrow Pattern 1000PL. The new 1000PLs have the same soft flow of the popular Redhead but with different pattern widths. Growers requested a variety of widths over the years as they found different uses for the standard 1000PL. The Green 1000PL-N is perfect for focused watering where more control is required. The Orange 1000PL-W throws a wider pattern than the standard Redhead, offering the ability to cover more area with a soft, gentle flow.”
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Mar 012008

Seed starting tools

This may come in handy for some, a display of all of the tools I have for indoor seed starting. This is for starting about 2,500 veggie seedlings. I have homebuilt, fluorescent-lit plant racks, and use mostly 38- and 72-cell plug sheets. Most of these tools are used always, some not as much: 1. The Seedmaster, a gadget for trickling out small seed as you rotate the wheel (the yellowSeed starting tools map pieces are click-in filters for different seed sizes); 2. assorted white plastic plant labels; 3. a dibbler or dibber or whatever, for poking little holes in soil; 4. a fine-point black waterproof marker (I like Sharpies) for labeling; 5. the mini-transplanter is essentially a tiny, stainless steel shoehorn for easy liberation of plugs from their cells; 6. a moisture meter, simply stick it in the soil; 7. plant snips for thinning seedlings; 8. Mini-Sim seeder: fill and shake out; 9. suction seeder with three tip sizes: squeeze the bulb, put the tip on a seed, release to hold, squeeze again to drop… ($25…what was I thinking?!); 10. digital timer for keeping track of repetitive tasks like bottom-watering trays one by one; 11. plant light meter, reads in footcandles, with settings for indoor and out; 12. digital indoor/outdoor min/max thermometer/hygrometer, mainly for keeping track of temperature; 13. magnifying glass with light, for examining seedlings (and GREEN MOSS) up close; 14. soil scoop for filling plug sheets and pots with seedling mix; 15. spray bottle with good quality spray head (more water per pull; I’ve used a wand mister like I have in the greenhouse, but the hose kept getting in the way, I may try one again for the seedling room this year); 16. small fibrepak flats, convenient for holding tools and seed packets on the potting table (left lying, the packets can so easily get wet…); 17. small bulldog clips, useful for all kinds of things, like organizing groups of seed packets. And the winners are…all of them, EXCEPT for: #9, which I found to be useless for my purposes; #8 which is great, but mostly for heavier hand seeding in the field, like for flowers; and #6, 11 & 13, which are more educational toys than essential tools, but still cool!

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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Dec 292007

Redhead water breakerWater seedlings quickly, with no flattened plants! The Dramm Redhead water breaker catalog description is, in my experience, perfectly accurate: “Softest flow of any water breaker that we have tested while still offering enough water volume. Perfect for all watering needs, especially for young seedlings. Stainless steel screen for years of reliable use.” The flow is high volume and incredibly low pressure and gentle. Admittedly, as I often water from a well, the water pressure is quite low to begin with, but I also use it with the pond pump, which puts out 50-60 psi (luxury!), and the Redhead is excellent. And, I’ve had the same head for three or four years banging around in the greenhouse and out in the field with no problems.  Continue reading »