If you’ll be planting a substantial vegetable garden, you should begin by shopping for a garden seeder. Garden seeders usually consist of a wheeled frame with a hopper to hold your seeds. Garden seeders are designed to make sowing seeds easier. They dispense a seed at regular intervals as you push the machine, so the plants will be evenly spaced. Thus, they eliminate the need to crawl along the row on your hands and knees, clutching a yardstick in one hand and a bag of seeds in the other. The simplest garden seeders deposit seeds and nothing else. However, if you’re going to invest your money in a seeding machine you should get one that will provide you with a few extra benefits.
At the very least, look for a seeder with multiple plates. These allow the machine to dispense seeds of varying sizes at the proper intervals. Seeder models come with anywhere from one to dozens of different plates. Before you buy a seeder, write down a list of the vegetables you plan to grow now and in the near future, and use that as your guide to determine how many seeder plates you’ll need. If you’re not sure about your future needs, look for a seeder that comes with one or two plates but gives you the option to buy more plates later as accessories.
More advanced seeders will make a furrow of the proper depth, deposit the seed, and then cover it up as you wheel the machine down the row. It’s a useful feature if you have a lot of rows to hoe, but it’s not strictly necessary. Another common option is a fertilizer dispenser. This accessory drops fine compost or fertilizer onto the row as it deposits seeds. Again, it’s a nice feature but not a requirement.
If you have dense clay soil, a garden seeder may not be able to dig and cover up furrows, so in that case you are better off with a simple model that just deposits the seeds. The furrow-making models also won’t work through mulch. They require fairly clear, rock-free soil to function properly.
If you’re a handy sort, you can make your own garden seeder from an old two-liter soft drink bottle and a piece of PVC pipe. Cut off the top four inches of the bottle and discard the bottom half. Set the end of the PVC pipe on the ground and cut it off about ten inches above your waist level. Then use duct tape to attach the soda-bottle funnel to the end of the PVC pipe.
As you walk down the row, use the end of the seeder to push the soil aside and create a planting hole. Point the funnel over this hole and drop a seed into the tube. Then use the funnel end to cover the seed and move on to the next. This simple seeder doesn’t work well for small seeds like carrots or lettuce, and it won’t disperse seeds evenly for you, but you can’t beat the price.