Gardening Tip – For the week 27th June -3rd July
It is easy to plant a ready grown plant in the ground but when it comes to sowing seed the procedure becomes much more difficult. Let me just list a few of the odds against your seed sowing and germinating success:
1] Every square metre of soil has hundreds of weed seeds lying dormant, waiting for the optimum soil conditions that will encourage them to germinate freely. They eagerly wait for the gardener, to come and water the soil, rake it to a fine tilth before sowing his seed, (as the gardening books tell him to), and hey presto the correct environment for the weed seeds to take off like rockets has now been created. Sadly, this is long before the vegetable seeds that we planted have had time to even take their coats off to get accustomed to their new surroundings! Now that the weeds have this head start our seedlings have strong competition before they even surface.
2] I always found it very difficult to sow seeds in straight rows and at the correct spacing, leaving me with bare patches and seedlings growing everywhere, making weeding between the rows (that don’t really exist) an impossible task.
3] Bending or kneeling down, whichever you prefer whilst sowing your seed – is a definite back and knee breaker.
4] However good quality your soil is, seeds need a bit of an extra cuddle to help them germinate but to cover the whole area with shop bought compost would leave you heavily out of pocket.
I have invented a simple solution to all the above problems which I now have pleasure to share with you. The first we call The Striper and the second The Seeder.
Tools and materials needed to construct your Striper:
Tools: A saw, a drill to make pilot holes, a screwdriver.
Materials: 3 thin wooden planks 200mm x 1.8m (or 6 planks 100mm x 1.8m) and 4 or 5, pieces of wood 50 x 50 mm approx 90cm long each. Approximately 40 x 45mm screws.
Method of construction:
It is advisable to build the Striper the opposite way than how you can see it in the picture. That means first put the 4 or 5 pieces of wood on the ground, spacing them out equally over 1.8m, then place the planks exactly perpendicular over them, leaving a 10cm space between the planks. Make sure once again that the spaces are equal and screw the planks to the woods. Turn the whole thing over on you soil and your Striper is ready to use.
Method of use:
Dig out a few cm deep of soil along the length of the 10cm. spaces between the planks, this can either be done with a regular spade or it is even easier with my ever faithful pointed drain spade that I advised you to buy a couple of weeks ago. You can see it in the photo proudly standing next to the wheelbarrow.
Now fill in these spaces with shop bought compost.
Clear away all excess compost from on top of the planks, and remove the Striper from the ground.
You have now gained straight lines ready to sow your seed. Shop bought compost should be heat treated and should not contain any weed seeds, but you haven’t wasted it all over your plot, you have just put it where the seeds are to be planted. Now your seeds can be planted on the visible straight stripes of compost and they will be the ones to have the head start over the weeds! That is why we call it The Striper.
Tools and materials needed to construct your Seeder:
Tools: A saw, a drill to make pilot holes, a screwdriver
Materials: 2 pieces of wood – 25 x 50 mm, 1.8m long each. 1 piece of wood – 50 x 50 mm 1.8 metres long and approx 40 x 45mm screws. Half a sheet of corrugated plastic (approx. 90cm long,) 670mm wide. (Tip – If you need to cut this from a larger sheet, make sure you use a very sharp knife and scour the plastic sheet many times from both times to avoid it cracking.)
Method of construction:
Saw the single piece (50x50mm x 1.8m) of wood in half. Cut the two similar (25x50mm x 1.8m) pieces of wood at 70 cm intervals .
You should now have 2 pieces 90cm long, 4 pieces 70cm. long and 2 pieces 40cm. long.
Screw the thinner pieces on the top and bottom of the thicker piece leaving you with a square. Turn over your square and place the corrugated sheet on the side of thicker pieces of wood. Place the two thinner pieces on the top and bottom and screw them through the corrugated into the thicker piece of wood the sheet is now in place but it is advisable to add extra screws to secure it to the wooden frame. It is essential to make a pilot hole with a drill when drilling into plastic but it is not necessary to buy the special screws (expensive!) that are sold with the plastic sheets; any screws will do as we are not using it for roofing.
Now, take the 40 cm pieces and screw them on the ends of the frame – not perpendicular but leaving the whole frame on an angle of about 70 degrees to the 40cm pieces of wood which will act as a stand to the frame. Your Seeder is now ready for use.
Method of use:
Place The Seeder on your soil on the row where you intend to sow your seed. With the edge of a hoe make a slight groove on the line where the sheet touches the ground. Dabble a bit of water along the groove. Now, in an erect position you put the seeds on the top of the corrugated sheet where they will roll down straight to the ground. We use a corrugated sheet as this ensures the seeds will go straight down and the spacing is simple, either every groove or every second or third depending on what you are growing; eliminating the need to measure!
Cover the row with a light sprinkling of compost. [The slant of the sheet and the watering of the soil ensures the seed should drop straight onto the ground but with some large round seeds it may be necessary to bend the seeder to a more acute angle to ensure the seed does not bounce away on the ground.
With these 2 simple inventions we have eliminated all the problems of seed sowing.
- The straight lines are ready for you.
- The compost has not been wasted and is only where you need it .
- The compost will inhibit weed growth until your seedlings emerge.
- The Seeder will save you any back or knee pain as it used whilst you are standing straight.
- The seeds have been sown in straight lines and with the correct spacing.
It is worth the little time and effort it takes to make these simple tools –(you can choose to make one without the other). If when you make yours you have added any modifications – please let me know!
Enjoy your gardening week!
Next week : Which seeds are still worth planting even more gardening tips from Goto 4 Gardening