38) Sowing groups of seeds at fixed distances

In this tip:

  • Introduction
  • For sale (on the market)
  • A)# Shift fall tray with 3 “special” fall tubes
  • B)# Nylon cord with distance marks
  • C)# Sowing
  • D)# Making


When you want to sow individual plants in a row at fixed distances you can sow 3 or 4 seeds per sowing spot. When sowing a few seeds per spot, you will expect that at least one seed will germinate and one plant will grow there. When 2, 3 or 4 plants are growing per sowing spot, you thin out later; at each spot you pull out small plants until one plant remains. This procedure works well at big or “easy to grab” seeds.

At small, dark, or hardly visible seeds this is much harder to do. Those seeds are hard to pick and lay on the soil. Or you can not clearly see where seeds have fallen on the soil. For example seeds of onion, chicory (witloof) or winter carrot.


For sale (on the market)

You can find many “seeding tools” on the Internet. Below a short list. For some tools there is a Youtube instruction video or test video. Some remarks of me added.

1.    Transparent plastic tube, push button at the top, seed outlet at the bottom. In the tube there is a round plastic pen with groove. When pushing the button, seed outlet changes from closed to narrow or wide opening to let seeds fall through. For example    Rapiclip Mini-Seedmaster   or      Magic seeder     or  Super seeder   .

Two Youtube video’s:      Parsley Seedmaster    en     Phacelia Magic

2.    Small plastic box with one small seed outlet. “Just fill tap and go”.  This tool: Dial seed sower

Three Youtube videos:     Flower seed    (at 5 min + 40 sec),  Salt shaker video    (at 0 min + 53 sec)  en     How to plant tomatoes     (at 1 min en 4 sec)

3.    Plastic V-shaped vibrating seeder. Small shovel fitted with a distribution device for sowing seeds without touching them. Turning the wheel makes the shovel vibrate and transport the seeds.  For example the  Vibrating seeder .

4.    Hand-held bulb vacuum seeder with hollow needle. See   Tenax Pro Seeder   .

Two videos about this tool:    Tenax tool     and    Homemade seeder   .

In this video a review of tool 3 and 4:       Vibra or Tenax   .

5.    Homemade tool, made of pvc conduit pipe. See video:  Conduit pipe tool   .

6.    Homemade precision sower, made of a thin tube and a small hose.  See video:    tube and hose  .

7.    Other tools: saltsprinkler, folded sheet of paper or plastic box.   See video:   Salt sprinkler etc   .


Properties, characteristics of these tools:

  • Tool 1,2,3,5 and 7;  at each “action”, one or more seeds fall out of the tool. You can’t control which seed and how many seeds will fall. Now and then seeds do not fall at the desired sowing spot. The seed falls a few millimeters or more from the destination spot.
  • Using tool nr 4 or 6, one seed is picked up each time. You can choose which seed is picked up. And where this seed is dropped. Now and then picking up the seed is less controlled due to a small “vacuum leak”. And sometimes seed drops too early.
  • More sowing tools such as this    Vibro Hand Seeder  , also see this   hand seeder video   .  What about this small plastic gutter with sowing holes:    gutter video    .


Sjef’s design

Using the shift fall tray with 1 fall tube, (see tip 34), you can drop seeds. Each seed falls through the fall tube onto the desired sowing spot. When you sow 2 or 3 seeds at 1 spot, plants will grow too close to each other. At thinning out, there is a risk of pulling all plants out. Or that the remaining plant is loose in the soil.

When using a shift fall tray with 3 fall tubes, this problem does not exist. You can choose which seed will fall at what sowing spot (accuracy +-  6 mm).

This sowing procedure is suitable for sowing carrots, onions, chicory or leek.


A)# Shift fall tray with 3 “special” fall tubes

In the bottom of this tray there are 3 fall holes to drop seeds. This tray is about 2 inch (5 cm) wide, so you can easily hold it in one hand. Because of this, 3 fall holes in 1 row do not fit. That’s why the outer holes are closer to the center of the tray than the middle hole.

The “fall tubes” have been made out of empty silicone nozzles (as used at sealant tubes). Over each tube there is a short piece of plastic tube (5/8 inch electricity conduit).

Each plastic tube has a certain length. The end of this tube is about 1/5 inch (5 mm) longer than the silicon nozzle. Because of this the nozzles keep open during sowing on moist garden soil.

This photo shows the fall tubes after sowing on moist garden soil. There is (rather much) moist soil on the plastic tubes, but the nozzles are still open.

When you watch the tubes on these photos, you can see that there are rubber bands around the nozzles. The rubber bands “hold” the plastic tubes so they don’t drop easily. And thanks to the rubber band there is a “fixed” space between the nozzle and the plastic tube. More info about this at D1) Tray.


B)# Nylon cord with distance marks

Very useful at sowing is a long nylon string of about 2 mm thick. It has knots at fixed distances, for example each 4 inch (10 cm). At each end of this string there is a loop.

Before sowing, fix the string over the garden soil; Put the loop at one side of the string over a bamboo stick. Put a piece of rubber band through the other loop of the string. Then put the rubber band over another bamboo stick, in a way that the string is pulled taut.

More info about this string at chapter D2) Nylon string with knots.   Or look at tip     2) Simple tools and tips    nr 64.


C)# Sowing

  • During sowing, hold the tray with one hand.
  • Again and again put the fall tubes “carefully” on the garden soil near a knot in the string. “Carefully” means “do not push the tubes into the soil”.
  • At each position, use one finger to shove 3 times one seed towards the holes in the bottom. Drop 1 seed in each fall hole.
  • Then lift the tray and put it near the next sowing spot. At that position, sow 3 seeds.
  • Continue until you have sown enough.

On the photos above you see round prints of the 3 plastic tubes in moist garden soil. Inside each print there is a onion seed, marked with a yellow circle.

After sowing strew a 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 the sand. Below it there is moist garden sand.

When using a plastic flower pot, you can strew a uniform layer of sand on the seeds.

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


C1) Sowing a mixture (onion and summer carrot)

Put some carrot seeds and onion seeds in the tray.

Sowing results in a thin layer of silver sand. Each time (alternately) 3 onion seeds and 3 carrot seeds have been sown. As planned. Klick on the photo for wide view.

You can sow alternately 3 summer carrots and 3 onions in one furrow. And thin out the onion plants later (and let the carrots grow). In this way you can grow 3 summer carrots, 1 onion, 3 carrots etcetera.


C2) Sowing tiny seeds using this tray

On this photo the tiny seeds of Snapdragon.

And here the Snapdragon seeds on silver sand. In each circle 1 seed. Click for wide screen view.


Conclusion:  Using this tool, one can also sow a mixture of seeds or tiny seeds.


D)# Making

This tray has been invented by myself. At this tool you determine yourself:

  • which seed is sown,
  • when that seed is sown,
  • where this seed is sown. Each seed drops within a 5/8 inch circle on the sowing soil.

Making a “shift fall tray” with 3 tubes is similar to making a tray with 1 tube, as described in tip 33. Below there are some more photos and tekst. And a description of the nylon string.


D1) Tray

Use a plastic box, for example a lunch box. Cut a plastic plate from the side of the box. Make 3 round holes in the plastic plate.

  • Drill small holes (2 mm) in the 4 corners of the plate and in the bottom of the tray.
  • Fix the plate to the bottom of the tray. Put 4 bolts and nuts (about 2 mm diameter) through the 4 small holes.
  • Drill 3 small “fall holes” in the bottom of the tray. Drill each fall hole in the center of a big hole.
  • Use a 4.5 mm drill to make the 3 “fall holes” larger (wider).
  • Remove the plate from the bottom again.
  • Put the nozzles through the holes in the plate.
  • Use the 4 bolts and nuts to fix the plate with nozzles to the bottom of the tray.
  • Put a rubber band over each nozzle. Thanks to this rubber band, there is a fixed space between nozzle and plastic tube. And the tubes do not fall from the nozzles that easy.

On this photo a close up of the rubber bands.

Saw short plastic tubes from 5/8 inch electricity conduit. Each plastic tube must have a good length. The end of each tube is about 1/5 inch (5 mm) longer than the silicon nozzle.


D2) Nylon string with knots

General description.

  • The nylon string is about 2 mm thick. Price is about € 0,10 per meter. Each knot makes the string 0.5 inch (1,2 cm) shorter. Take this into account when knotting.
  • When making a string of 15 ft (4.5 meter) with a knot each 4 inch (10 cm) you start with a string of 17 ft (5.2 meter). With 2 loops starting length is about 19 ft (5.8 meter).
  • Make the first knot in the middle of the string. Then make knots towards one end of the string. And then make knots from the middle to the other end of the string. In this way the maximal length you have to handle is half the original length.
  • When sowing at 2 inch (5 cm) distance you can also use this string with 4 inch (10 cm) marks. Sow near each knot and half way between 2 knots.

3 thoughts on “38) Sowing groups of seeds at fixed distances”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: