Thursday, July 19, 2012
Garden Tools: The Walk-Behind Planter
For years I've successfully planted sweet corn with this, though I've often filled in skipped spots with hand-planted seeds. (You don't know it's skipped until nothing comes up there, of course.) This year I've planted the Three Sisters for the fist time so I didn't use the planter for corn. I've used it for peas several times, but, again, it skips. Since I plant wide rows for peas, with three or four rows spaced four or so inches apart within each of these rows, some skipping isn't a huge issue, especially when I plant a dozen or more of these wide rows like I did last year. That was more than a quarter of a mile of rows! No, I don't usually plant this many peas; this was part of my soil-improvement project for the traditional garden space. I would never have attempted this without the planter.
I usually broadcast carrots in wide rows, but these have always needed much thinning and weeding, so I tried the planter this spring. I don't think using it was an improvement. I still had to weed and thin, and, in addition, felt frustrated that it didn't work better and wasted a lot of seeds. The same was true with beets. I wound up with clumps of beets followed by two-foot bare spots. I attempted some transplanting, which worked, but was tedious in the extreme. I thinned them and am still harvesting reasonable crops.
If the soil isn't well-prepared (ie, tilled or hoed), the furrow blade doesn't work worth a hoot. Seeds wind up either uncovered or barely covered. Care must be taken at ends of rows, as the planter usually dumps far too many seeds when you start and stop. I'd say it's a useful tool for a large garden, but not worth even the $15 for something small. Have you tried using one of these? What are your experiences?