37) Sowing small seeds individually with fixed distances

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In this tip:

  • Introduction
  • A)# Sowing dry seeds
  • B)# Sowing germinated seeds
  • C)# Sowing 1 or 2 seeds
  • D)# Needed for sowing
  • E)# Mixing small seeds with dry sand

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Introduction

Some vegetables (or flowers) have small seeds. Very often these seeds are sown one by one in a row, for example summer carrots or leeks. It is difficult to sow again and again one seed at each sowing spot. Often, many seeds falls on the same sowing spot. Or you forget to sow at a spot. And sowing all seeds at fixed distances is not easy either.

I did some tests when sowing summer carrots in a tray with sowing soil, see tip   20) Early summer carrots (sowing indoors, growing outdoors)  . Then I found out how to sow 1 seed per sowing spot at fixed distances. Or 2 seeds per sowing spot. And I made some extra simple tools to do this.

These tools are:

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  • Shift fall tray with one “fall tube”. The “fall tube” has been made out of an empty silicone nozzle (as used at sealant tubes). There is an elastic band around the tube (see tip 20).

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  • Round sowing stick with elastic band around it (see tip 20).

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  • Sink mat (see tip 20) or a placemat with holes or a “seed and plant spacing rule”. Such a rule is a slat with holes in it at fixed distances.

A rule is to be sold   here     (found at the internet). This rule is rather expensive and the holes in it are too small. You can make a rule with round holes of 9 mm yourself. Further in this tip there is a description.

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You can sow “dry” seeds that come right out of the seed bag. Or you can sow “germinated” seeds. These seeds lay on moist toilet paper. Seeds germinate and each seed gets a small root. Germinated seeds can be picked up and laid on the garden soil using tweezers.

In this tip both ways of sowing are described.

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A)# Sowing dry seeds

A1) Sowing dry seeds in a small furrow

Here is a description of sowing “dry” seeds in a small furrow. In chapter A2) you can read how to sow on a small plant bed.

There are photos of sowing summer carrots or leek.

The used tools:  “shift fall tray”, sowing stick, piece of sink mat or a self made rule.

This method is also good for sowing other vegetables or flowers with small seeds. When you want to sow seeds one by one in a row. For example radish.

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Make a flat sowing trench in the garden soil. Spray cold tap water on the soil. Let the water disappear in the garden soil.

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Lay a piece of sink mat or a sowing rule in the furrow. A sink mat is heavy and will not “move” during next steps. But a sowing rule can shift. Use iron pins in the small holes to fix the rule to the garden soil. On the middle photo there is a fixing pin at the right side of the photo.

Put the sowing stick in the holes of the mat or the ruler to make sowing holes in the soil. This stick has a little bevelling. This bevelling makes the seeds “roll” to the middle of the bottom of a sowing hole. Depth of the sowing holes is 5 to 8 millimeters (1/4 to 1/3 inch).

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Lay the mat or the ruler in the furrow. Put dry seeds in the shift fall tray (with one tube and a rubber band). Again and again shove one seed to the hole in the tray. Let the seed fall through the tube and the mat hole (or ruler hole) into a sowing hole. On the top photo and the middle photo, carrots are sown. On the lower photo, leek seeds.

Next step: remove the mat or rule from the garden soil.

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On these photos you see sowing holes with 1 seed in. On the top photo and middle photo you see dry carrot seeds. On the lower photo leek seeds.

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After sowing seeds, strew (sprinkle, scatter) a thin layer of moist garden sand on the seeds.

To “find” moist garden sand at an empty place in your garden; shove aside the dry top layer of sand. Below it, there is moist garden sand.

When using a plastic flower pot with holes in the bottom, you can easily strew a uniform layer of moist sand.

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Then cover the furrow with a cloth (or board or plastic corrugated plate). Then the soil does not dry so fast. An during heavy shower, seeds are not washed away. Put bricks or so on the coverage to prevent it from blowing away.

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A2) Sowing dry seeds on a small plant bed

Sowing on a small plant bed is just as good as (or even better then) sowing in a row in a small furrow. You can sow on a new plant bed a few times a year. For example when sowing summer-, autumn- or winter leek. Or cauliflower, broccoli or kohlrabi. Or each month a new bed of summer carrots. The planting beds can be made next to each other.

Below a step by step description with photos about sowing summer carrots. You can sow leeks or cabbages in the same way.

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  • Loosen a piece of garden soil using a fork or a garden scoop.
  • When desired, mix compost or manure or ….. through the garden soil.

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  • Use a rake to flatten the soil again.

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  • Lay a frame of wooden laths on the soil. See tip 2 nr 69 how to make this frame.

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  • Use a wooden lath to shove garden earth against the outer sides of the frame.
  • Press on this garden earth to form a little dam around the plant bed.

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  • Use a watering can with fine sprinkler head.
  • Water the soil of the planting bed.
  • Hold the sprinkler head near the soil during watering. In this way the soil is watered “softly”. After watering the soil is still loose. That’s better for the carrot plants.

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  • Let the water drop in the garden soil.
  • Lay a placemat with holes on the soil. This placemat has sowing holes with 3 centimeter (1.2 inch) distance between the holes. More info about this placemat in tip 2, nr 70.
  • Put fixing pens in small holes near the corners of the placemat to fix it. Further in this tip more info about these fixing pens.
  • Use a round sowing stick to make sowing holes in the soil.
  • Make a sowing hole under each hole in the place mat.

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  • Drop 2 (or 3) seeds in each sowing hole. That goes well when using a shift fall tray. Or use a (white plastic) tray and tweezers.
  • After sowing, remove the placemat.

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  • On the photo above you see that there are 2 carrot seeds in each sowing hole.

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  • Strew moist garden soil on the plant bed. You can use a plastic flower pot with holes in the bottom to do that.

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  • Carefully remove the frame. Make sure that the dam around the planting bed stays intact during removal of the frame.

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  • Lay a wooden stepping board (or something like that) over the planting bed. The garden soil with seeds will not dry out so easily then. And during a heavy shower, the seeds will not flow away.
  • Remove the wooden board when first plants are visible.

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  • Thin out when the plants are a few centimeters (about 1 inch) high. You can pull plants out of the soil. Ore use scissors to cut them just above the surface of the soil.

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  • Carrot plants have been thinned out. At each sowing spot, there is one little carrot plant growing (or no plant when no one has cropped up). Distance between the plants is 3 centimeters (1.2 inch).

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  • Right after thinning, spray water on the plants.

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  • Let the carrots plants grow big. On this photo you see 4 little plant beds with summer carrots next to each other.

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This is the harvest of one plantbed, about 7 weeks after sowing. Sowing in 63 sowing holes gives 56 summer carrots. Weight without foliage is 440 grams. The carrots are undamaged, no attack by the carrot fly. There are many small carrots, so the plants could have grown a longer time before harvesting.

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B)# Sowing germinated seeds

You can sow germinated seeds in a small furrow or in a small plant bed. The preparations are similar to those when sowing dry seeds. After making sowing holes, you remove the mat or the ruler or the placemat. And you lay the germinated seeds in the sowing holes.

B1) Sowing germinated seeds in a small furrow

Below there is a description with photos of sowing germinated seeds in a shallow furrow. The used tools: a sink mat or a self made rule, a sowing stick and tweezers.

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Make a flat sowing trench in the garden soil. Spray cold tap water on the soil. Let the water disappear in the garden soil.

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Lay a piece of sink mat or a sowing rule in the furrow. A sink mat is heavy and will not “move” during next steps. But a sowing rule can shift. Use iron pins in the small holes to fix the rule to the garden soil. On the middle photo there is a fixing pin at the left side of the photo.

Put the sowing stick in the holes of the mat or the ruler to make sowing holes in the soil. This stick has a no bevelling. This makes the bottom of a sowing hole wider. So there is more place for the seed with root. Depth of the sowing holes is 5 to 8 millimeters (1/4 to 1/3 inch).

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After making the sowing holes in the soil, remove the mat or the rule. On the photos above you see “empty” sowing holes.

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In this margarine box there are germinated leek seeds (left side) and germinated carrot seeds (right side).

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Use tweezers to pick the germinated seeds. And a tea spoon to rinse water when “seed is sticking to the tweezer tips” (see below).

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Use tweezers to pick each seed from the moist paper and to lay the seed in a sowing hole. When a seed sticks to the tweezer tips you can use a  teaspoon of tap water to rinse the seed into the sowing hole.

On the 3 photos above you see sowing holes with one germinated seed in each hole. On the top phote you see carrot seeds. On the middle and lower photo there are leek seeds.

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After sowing strew (sprinkle) a layer of moist garden sand on the seeds. When using a plastic flower pot, you can strew a uniform layer of sand.

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Then cover the furrow with a cloth (or board or plastic corrugated plate). Then the soil does not dry so fast. An during heavy shower seeds are not washed away. Put bricks or so on the coverage to prevent it from blowing away.

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B2) Sowing germinated seeds in a small plant bed

Below a description about sowing germinated seeds in a small plant bed. Use a placemat with sowing holes, a sowing stick and tweezers.

Execute the same preparations as when sowing dry seeds. Below the photos.

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  • Loose the soil, flatten the soil, lay frame on, shove soil against outer sides, water the soil, lay placemat on, make sowing holes.
  • Remove the placemat after making sowing holes.

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  • Use tweezers to pick each germinated seed and to lay it in a sowing hole.
  • On the photos above you see sowing holes with one germinated seed in each hole; carrot (above) or leek (below).

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  • Strew moist garden soil on the plant bed. You can use a plastic flower pot with holes in the bottom to do that.

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  • Carefully remove the frame. Make sure that the dam around the planting bed stays intact during removal of the frame.

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  • Lay a wooden stepping board (or something like that) over the planting bed. The garden soil with seeds will not dry out so easily then. And during a heavy shower, the seeds will not flow away.
  • Remove the wooden board when first plants are visible.

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Remarks about the fixing pins:

  • Ruler too long:

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It can happen that the rule is (much) longer than the part of the furrow that needs sowing. In that case, lay one end of the ruler at the end of the furrow (see right photo above). Lay a (big) part of the ruler on fresh strewed (sprinkled) sand (left photo above). Put the fixing pens in one small hole and in one large hole of the rule. The photos above show how to do this. On the left photo, the rule is on sprinkled sand and the pin is in a large hole of the rule. On the right photo the pin is in a small hole at the end of the rule.

  • Improved fixing pin:

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These pins have been made of iron wire  of 1/10 inch (2,5 mm) thick. The rectangle shape pushes the ruler well on the sowing soil. So a good fixation. The pins are easy to make.

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C)# Sowing 1 or 2 seeds

When sowing summer carrots, you can drop 2 seeds in each sowing hole. Then (most of the time) 1 or 2 carrot plants will grow at each sowing spot.

When 2 carrot plants grow at each spot, they can “hinder each other during growth”.

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On this photo you see carrots that have grown from “2 seeds per sowing hole”. Some plants show curved carrots. And you see pairs of carrots still “touching each other” . All carrots have normal sizes.

When you want to end up with one plant per sowing spot, you can sow 2 seeds per sowing hole. At sowing spots with 2 plants, use scissors to cut away the smallest plant just above soil surface. The remaining plant can grow big. This works well at summer carrots or leek.

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D)# Needed for sowing

The shift fall tray with empty silicone nozzle and elastic band around it, the sowing stick and the sink mat have been described in these tips;

20) Early summer carrots (sowing indoors, growing outdoors)    and/or

33) A sink mat and a “shift fall tray” as seed sowing aids

About the tray, the stick and the sink mat there is a short description below.

About the self made rule there is an extended description below.

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D1) Shift fall tray

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Shift fall tray has one “fall tube”. The “fall tube” has been made out of an empty silicone nozzle. There is an elastic band around the tube near the opening. This band prevents the tube from going too deep into the hole of the mat or the rule.  And thereby no blockage of the opening by garden earth or sowing soil.

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D2) Sowing stick

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Use a stick with a little bevelling to sow dry seeds. This makes the seeds roll to the middle of the sowing holes.

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Use a stick with a straight end to sow germinating seeds. This results in wide sowing holes. So there is more space for each seed with a root.

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D3) Mat

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The mat with holes is a rubber sink mat. Or a part of this mat. The mat that you buy in a shop can have “closed holes”, as shown on the top photo. You can make extra holes in the mat as shown on the lower photo.

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D4) Sowing rule

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This sowing rule has been made out of a plastic strip. This kind of strip can be bought in a DIY shop. A flat strip of 2.7 meter costs about €3.00.

You can also use the flat “lid” of a plastic cable duct.

Use a hacksaw to make a rule of about 2 or 3 ft.

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Drill holes in the plastic strip. Pitch of the holes is about 1 inch or 1.5 inch. Hole size is about 3/8 inch (9 mm). During drilling, lay the strip on a wooden board. The drilling is not an easy job, but when you try hard and take your time you will succeed. When desired you can write consecutive numbers near the holes.

Drill a small hole of about 4 mm (1/6 inch) near each end of the rule. This hole is used to fix the rule on the soil.

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You can buy a plastic strip like the one on the photos above. Then:

  • Draw a pencil line in the middle of the strip
  • Mark the positions of the holes on this line. Pitch is about 1 or 1.5 inch.
  • Drill small holes of about 3 mm (1/8 inch). Put the strip on a wooden block during drilling.
  • Use a drill of about 9.5 mm (3/8 inch) to make the holes bigger. Drill slowly. Put the strip on a wooden block during drilling. And lay one wooden lath at each side of the hole. So you can push the strip on the wooden block during drilling. This prevents the strip to move upward when drilling too fast (as a Archimedes pump).
  • Drill 1 small hole of about 4 mm (5/32 inch) near each end of the ruler.

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I am still looking for a plastic strip with holes (9 millimeter) that is to be sold in a DIY shop. Then the holes need not to be drilled by yourself. The holes in the strip may be round or square.

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To make the fixing pins, you can use an iron bucket handle. Saw the handle in 2 parts. Then use one pair of tongs and a bench vice to bend each “half handle” into the desired shape.

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Or bend pins from 1/10 inch (2.5 mm) iron wire. These pins are even better because they press the ruler on the sowing soil.

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E)# Mixing small seeds with dry sand

On the internet there are many articles about mixing (carrot) seeds with dry sand. When sowing this mixture, the seeds are better spread out in the sowing furrow, according to these articles.

To find out how this works, some experiments have been done using summer carrot seeds mixed with dry quarz sand.

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E1) Mixture of seeds and “not much” dry quartz sand, strewing from a plastic cup

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Mix 14 dry carrot seeds with a little volume of dry quartz sand in a small plastic cup. Use a plastic tea spoon to move the mixture. Mix as well as possible.

Then strew the mixture from the cup on a piece of cardboard. Spread the mixture in a line of approx 10 inch (25 cm) on the cardboard. Spread the mixture next to a rule with marks. On the rule there are 8 distances of 3 cm (30 millimeter, 1 1/4 inch).

Do the test 3 times.

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On the photos above you see the results of 3 tests (little volume of sand, strewn from the beaker). There is a small dam of sand containing the carrot seeds. Seeds are not evenly distributed but concentrated in groups.

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E2) Mixture of seeds and “much” dry quartz sand, strewing from a plastic cup

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At this test, mix 14 carrot seeds with a “big volume” of quartz sand. Then strew the mixture from the cup on a piece of cardboard.

After sowing, seeds have been pushed aside in a straight line. Now you can see where the seeds “were hiding” in the layer of quartz sand.

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On the photo above you see the result of this test (much sand, strewn from the beaker).

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E3) Mixture of seeds and “much” dry quartz sand, strewing from a small plastic V- shaped tray.

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At this test, mix 14 carrot seeds with a “big volume” of quartz sand.

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  • Put the mixture in a plastic V-shaped tray. This tray has been made out of a plastic margarine box.
  • Let the mixture fall on the cardboard. Use tweezers or a pencil or pen to tap softly against the tray while the tray is kept a little bit slanted. When tapping the mixture falls more or less “uniform” on the cardboard.
  • After sowing, push seeds aside in a straight line. So you can see where the seeds “were located” in the layer of quartz sand.

This test has been executed 2 times.

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On the photos above you see the results of 2 tests (big volume of quartz sand, strewn from the V-shaped tray by tapping with tweezers).

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E4) Conclusion

  • When strewing from a round plastic cup, seeds do not fall uniform in a line. There are groups with many seeds and groups with few or no seeds.
  • When repeating the test, the groups with many seeds are located at different spots next to the rule.
  • Mixing carrot seeds with a small or a big volume of quartz sand shows about the same result.
  • Strewing from a V-shaped tray (and tapping with tweezers) gives a better, more uniform result than strewing from a round plastic cup.

In a mixture of carrot seeds and dry quartz sand, the seeds easily seperate from the dry sand. When shaking this mixture, many carrot seeds will show on top of the sand. These seeds “start floating” on the sand. This is due to the different density of sand and seeds.

When putting the original “well mixed” mixture in a V-shaped tray, the seeds stay well mixed in the sand. When you tap against the tray, sand and seeds fall uniformely on the cardboard.

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This entry was posted in carrots, leek, sowing. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 37) Sowing small seeds individually with fixed distances

  1. Pingback: Welcome | sjefgardentips

  2. Pingback: 3) “Sowing box” or “small seed shift tray” | sjefgardentips

  3. Mark says:

    You sir are a treasure of excellent information! Thank you for your willingness to share your testing and ideas.

  4. Pingback: 34) Sowing leek or summer carrots using a sink mat and a “shift fall tray” | sjefgardentips

  5. Pingback: 33) A sink mat and a “shift fall tray” as seed sowing aids | sjefgardentips

  6. Pingback: 33) Gootsteenmatje en “schuifvalbakje” als zaaihulp | sjeftuintips

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