Garden planning time is in full swing for all of us now! This periodic gentle rain has been fantastic for seed germination. Planting big seeds like squash and beans is so easy, I love to involve toddlers in those activities, but sowing tiny seeds can be a pain. And there are so many tiny seeds! Carrots, turnips, lettuce, arugula, mustards, and on and on… There are a few inventions out there in an attempt to make this task a little less tedious and more predictable in terms of spacing. I’ll share a few options with you guys, then there are some photos of my primitive method at the end.
Yes, you heard me, carrot tape! This handy invention takes all the guess work out of the equation. Unrolling your seed tape and keeping it watered for germination is about as hard as it gets with this method. I haven’t personally tried this because the price is higher than a standard packet of seeds and I prefer to grow my veggies in patches as opposed to long rows. It seems like a fantastic option for someone with no time for the fuss of carrots, though. If you want to go this route, you can shop around, too. Carrot tape is available in other varieties than just the one I linked to.
There are many varieties of seeds that are offered in pelleted form – meaning, they’ve been given a white coating that is clay-based to make them easier to see and handle. Follow this link to pelleted lettuce and watch the brief video to see some examples. While some people use a toilet paper trick to make the surface of the soil white (thereby making dark seeds easier to see), I much prefer this option of sowing white seeds on black dirt!
A planting template is an option that would work well for someone short on space, or someone like me who prefers to plant in patches instead of rows. I have done this method of planting and it is a keeper for me. Hubby and I ended up breaking new drill bits when we tried to make holes in plywood with spade bits. Check out this link on drilling holes and opt for something beefier from the list, like #7 (a hole saw) to save yourself from our headache!
Hand Seed Sower
A hand seed sower is a cheap little gadget that makes hand sowing a bit more precise by limiting the flow of seeds. There are notches for different sizes of seeds. You can give it a little jiggle or flick to knock a seed out, hopefully preventing my problem of dropping three seeds where I really wanted one seed. I can’t speak to its effectiveness, personally, but it’s affordable enough to give it a try! If you do, let me know how you like it.
This tool is probably only worth the investment for a larger-scale home grower. Check out the snapshot below of all that it does, including covering your seeds for you! The tool comes with disks to control the flow of different sizes of seeds. I have this tool on loan from a friend for the first time, but have yet to give it a whirl because the seeds that I have planted so far have been in smaller patches. I’ll report out after I use it!
Alas, there’s the ever-popular pinch and finger roll
I have to confess that my most oft used method is the least accurate. I don’t mind it too much in the end, though. I like the control that feeling the seeds in my hands gives me, and it’s quick. For small patches, I literally outline a patch in the dirt with a stick, and sprinkle the seed within the perimeter. I will make the seed spacing a more controlled, rough measurement for something bigger like lettuce heads. For something small that can pack in, like turnips, I just sprinkle.
With denser sprinkling, it can be handy to come in and thin your patch some weeks later as the plants are getting larger. I find there are always some weeds I need to go in and pull, anyway. We also really enjoy munching on the tiny raw beets or whatnot after a little thinning. Although, if I don’t get around to thinning, many roots actually handle crowding into each other just fine, at least for my imprecise needs.
If you’d like a little more precision than this, consider making shallow rows in the dirt with a stick or a garden tool. See photo of my furrow, nothing fancy.
This provides you just a simple visual guide of where you are going to sow seeds.
Pour a little seed in your hand, pinch and sprinkle down your furrow according to the spacing your vegetable requires.
When you’re done, cover to roughly twice the depth of the seed’s diameter.
For tiny carrot seeds, that is not much cover at all!
Because the seeds are so small and needs such a light cover, I like to cover carrot seeds with vermiculite, shown here. The vermiculite cover allows me to see exactly where the seeds should be germinating (carrot germination is not fast), and I know they aren’t buried too deep or underneath a heavy clod of compost. In this photo, my carrots were planted in short rows that alternate with my sad looking onions. This companion planting is a new experiment, fingers crossed!
Have you tried any of these seed-sowing methods? If so, let me know what you think about them, or share if you have a different method!