Top positive review
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Almost more of a specialty tool
on June 26, 2006
While this is a good tool on the whole -- and not too expensive either -- it still isn't for every gardener nor for every purpose in the garden. To remove all doubt, perhaps it should not go without saying that this is not a tool for making hills for melons, squash, or zukes. It will not help you with transplants such as tomatoes, nor will it handle seed potatoes. No, this seeder is for rows of things like beans and corn, and in these cases it shines. I still think, however, that you have to be planting a pretty big garden to make it worth your time to set-up the Earthway seeder, learn to use it, store it, and maintain it.
On the pro side, for instance, I used my new Earthway seeder to plant more than 700 row-feet of popcorn. Wow! The Earthway seeder practically paid for itself that day, since it allowed me to plant the entire plot in less than 45 minutes and with no bending over! I also used it to plant plots of field corn, beans, and beets.
Here are my notes, for what they're worth:
1.) Have freshly tilled, fine, debris-free soil. It is difficult to push the seeder through crusted soil or anything with too many lumps in it, and you won't get those perfectly straight rows if you're struggling just to move forward. Also, too much surface trash will be a problem for the little chain that drags behind and covers the seed. Hint: do "dry runs" with the seeder at the proper depth, but without seed in the bin. This will give you a sense of how well it's going to work before you commit your seed, and it helps to mark your rows in advance too.
2.) Have enough seed, and watch the seed plate closely as it turns. If the seed bin gets low, the pockets in the seed plates will often fail to scoop up the seeds in a regular fashion. You'll end up with a lot of skips. Of course, if you're not buying your seed at least ¼ pound at a time, I'm not sure why you'd want this tool anyhow.
3.) Select your seed plate carefully, and if needed test it with the seed before use. (Attach a plastic bag under the seeder or something.) For example, I had a limited quantity of small soup beans. I popped in the bean plate and made two rows. Before the end of the second row, however, I was out of seed, which should not have been the case. I didn't figure this out till after the seeds sprouted: that seed plate scooped up those small beans two at a time and double-planted the first row, leaving insufficient seed for the second row.
4.) If you are considering the Fert-A-Ply attachment for the seeder, re-think that. I did not realize till the attachment arrived that I could not use it at the same time as I planted -- meaning that it took re-configuring the seeder and another full set of passes to apply an amendment to my rows. Also, the construction and the few moving parts of the attachment are extremely chintzy. I could not get mine adjusted well and used quite a bit more expensive material than I intended.
5.) The assumption for the Earthway seeder is that your seed is dry. If you like to soak your seeds before planting, or if you want to wet-innoculate things like green beans before planting, I don't think this is the tool for those cases.
6.) I have not tried the seeder with pelleted seeds of any kind, but I bet it would work well for that. Again, pick your seed plate carefully.
7.) Of course, straight rows are an advantage for mechanized cultivation equipment in your garden or even for zipping through the rows with a wheel hoe or high-wheel cultivator. Even if you're not obsessive about straight rows, however, this seeder still can be a time- and back-saver.
I hope this helps you to make a more informed choice.