|...and the new|
We got a new seeder this year. The old one is a Planet Junior, which uses a design that was developed in the late 1800s by the same guy who invented the flexible flyer sled. We have five Planet Jrs. mounted on a hitch that can be pulled by a tractor, but by some time in the middle of last season, the drive wheels on two of the five units were bent enough that we had to seed three rows, and then empty the seed out of the middle unit, and turn around and seed the two rows on the other side to get a five-row bed. We could have put the effort into getting all of the rusty bolts apart and figuring out how to straighten out the bent pieces or ordering new drive wheels (we may still do this at some point before we put our old Planet Junior up on Craigslist). We do that with a lot of our old equipment, but when we were making up our capital purchase list this year, we decided to get a new Jang seeder. The Jang is capable of “singulating” seeds–it drops individual seeds at a given spacing–where the Planet Jr. just dribbles out a steady line of seeds. My hope is that this will help us with things like carrots and beets, where maybe we won’t have to thin them.
So today I decided to take out the new Jang and try it out. We needed to get some carrot seeds planted, since the second succession of carrots didn’t turn out well, and I ended up just tilling them in and starting over (maybe the Planet Junior knows it is being replaced, so it refused to cooperate on that second planting of carrots). The first planting of carrots was a good one (and we got it weeded and thinned yesterday), so it should keep us in carrots for a while, but we really need to get in another planting now, or we’ll have an interruption in our carrot supply, causing undue stress for both farmers and eaters. I also had salad mix, arugula, beets, radishes, and spinach on my seeding list. The first bed I planted didn’t go well at all. The seeders on one side just didn’t go into the soil, and the little radish seeds were singulated out very nicely on top of the soil. I figured out that it was crooked, and that I could loosen a bolt and kind of push down on one side and then try and tighten the bolt with my two wrenches in two hands while continuing to apply pressure with my foot. This would straighten things out so that all five seeders ran in the soil, for about 50 feet, until things got all crooked again. The unit I got is actually a light-duty hand-pushed model that can be modified to mount on a tractor. After two 300-foot long-beds worth of stopping every 50 feet to straighten things out, I was ready to go back to the barn, get the handle, and just hand-push the seeder down the beds. As I was getting ready to go back, I noticed the owner’s manual. “Maybe I’ll just look at the instructions again,” I thought. After peering at the instructions for a while, I realized that maybe I had bolted the tractor-mount frame into the wrong hole. It took a little work, but I got it attached to the right hole, and finished up the seeding. We’ll see if those carrots turn out nicely spaced exactly one inch apart!