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Let's talk about seeding

One of the most important task we do on the farm is placing seed in the ground. All the cutlivations we do leading up tot he actual sowing add to the cost of that crop and are most important in establishing how much of that seed grows and how good the stand turns out. I would like to hear from any member with experiences and advice about sowing seeds - or even the failures that might save others time and money.

Here are some of my recent experiences which may bring helpful comments from other members.

Last fall I was caught short on time to get my rye in. there were only a few periods when he ground was fit for planting and I didn't want to miss my opportunity when it came. When it did come I was still looking for a part for my seed drill so I mounted up the 3-point-hitch fertilizer spreader and set to work to put the rye on a well-prepared surface. I was generous with the seeing rate, probably approaching the 200 pounds per acre level. I harrowed and rolled it and waited for the results. Once more I was disappointed with the density of the stand compared to that using less seed in a seed drill. Once more I swear it will be the last time I use broadcasting for rye.

With spelt, on the other hand, I had a different result. The seed I used was not that clean. Although there were no weed seeds, thanks to the scour clean on the combine, many of the heads had not broken up enough to pass through a seed drill. Again, short of time and unable to get it cleaned locally, I decided to broadcast it. At first it wouldn't go through the broadcaster as the heads that contained several kernels held together, blocked the exit. So I welded several prongs onto the stirring mechanism in the spreader bin and tried again. They whipped up the seed, even throwing some of the top,, but they did break it up and the stand was great. It received the same harrowing and rolling as the rye. Why the better results I'm not sure.

This spring I had two pastures to seed and decided on a direct seeding with no nurse crop - a mistake. Although seeding conditions were on the wet side, they were still quite good and I put in a wide spectrum seeds mixture. To date the stand has been very poor even though the seedbed was good and the seeds polled in at the right depth. A bare patch on the lawn, however, which was seeded a little later with a few handfulls of oats, grew far better. in retrospect I should have used oats as a nurse crop and taken a crop of oat hay - next time!

Vine crops on compost

I've mentioned before that my best squash have come from the compost pile where seeds tossed out from the kitchen along with other compostables that all go in the barnyard manure pack, germinate and thrive.

Instead of doing that by accident this year I planted all my vine crops in piles of compost. At mid-August I have no regrets. I planted the seeds in little pockets of soil put on the piles and the heat of the decomposing compost helped them off to a great start. There was little weeding to do and now the vine completely cover the piles with plenty of fruit forming. The taste will be the real test.

Copyright 1993 Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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