Deciding on a precision seeder

Earthway Precision Seeder

This year, I intend to use a garden seeder to assist with planting.  I have spent a great deal of time deciding on what seeder to use.  In fact, I’ve put this decision off for at least the past year as I could not make a decision.  Since the cost of even the simplest seeder is a decent size outlay, I wanted to be sure that I would be satisfied with my purchase.

I have finally settled on the Earthway 1001-B Precision Garden Seeder
(pictured at right).  I have heard both good and bad about this seeder, but one thing seems certain – that even people using other seeders have an Earthway as well.  For around a hundred bucks, I thought even if I don’t like it, I’m not out a huge pile of cash.  I like the versatility of the various seed plates and I think that even if I don’t continue using it for planting things with smaller seeds, I probably will continue to use it for larger seeds like beans or peas.

Some of the other seeders under consideration were quite a bit more expensive, so I thought that the Earthway was a good place to start.  I may try one of the others at a later time.

One was Johnny’s Seeds Six-Row Seeder.  I expect to increase my leafy green production and I thought this would work well.  The biggest problem was two-fold.  First, there are mixed reviews on the web.  Some people love it, others absolutely hate it.  At $549, I just don’t want to work with the possibility that I might hate it.

The other type that I considered was like the European Push Seeder (also available from Johnny’s).  There are others available that work on the same principle, such as the Planet Jr.  This type seems to be the most reliable.  However, it’s principle is similar to the Earthway with a bigger outlay.

I think I am going to work with the Earthway for now and consider one (or both) of these other types next year.  If you have any personal experience with any of these units, feel free to comment.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on these.

Small Farms are on the Rise

According to the results of the most recent Census of Agriculture, we may be witnessing the return to small, diversified, family farms.  This article in US News and World Report indicates that new farming techniques make small farms more viable and demand for fresh organic food is increasing. With the current economic environment, it should come as no surprise that small farms are on the rise.  People are looking for ways to supplement income, get out of the rat race, become better stewards of the land (and their food), or all of the above.

This article from Clark County, Washington indicates that many of these farms are started by people who are looking for extra income and these farms are on the rise, even as large scale, industrialized agriculture is dying.

Unsung, unorganized and unsupported by most federal subsidies, backyard fruit, vegetable and meat growers have been popping up in the county almost as fast as the biggest farms have been dying, new federal statistics show.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, between 2002 and 2007 Minnesota gained 2,200 farms 180 acres or smaller, but only 100 farms of 2,000 acres or more.

Minnesota’s growth in small farms is largely concentrated in the Twin Cities area and is beholden to the state’s strong organic product movement and its large immigrant populations in quest of ethnic meats and vegetables. For example, inventories of goats have quadrupled in the state during the past decade.

And small farm operations can best serve those niche markets.

This is good news.  The demise of the family farm in the latter half of the twentieth century was a detriment to our society and culture.  We have reached a point where industrial agriculture controls a significant portion of our food supply and there has been a quiet revolution to that system.  That quiet revolution has been growing and will eventually reach a shout.  I am looking forward to that day.

Additional articles:
U.S. farming is growing in numbers but shrinking in size of farms