The Vacuum Seeder

Plies of 72-celled trays waiting to be seeded with lettuce, spinach and mizuna seeds.

Plies of 72-celled trays waiting to be seeded with lettuce, spinach and mizuna seeds.

 I spent a lot of time sowing a very precise number of seeds once or twice a week.  In the beginning, I did this by hand.  The trays you see above were filled with two seeds per cell.  It took a long time.  So long, that I worked into the evening by the light of a lone light bulb.

This wasn’t very efficient.  Knowing that there would be hundreds and hundreds of flats to be filled with seeds, however, improvements were made.

Enter the vacuum seeder

There are many types of small hand-held vacuum seeders available to help growers and farmers.  They all work in pretty much the same way.  

A heavy vacuum pump is plugged in and provides suction (the blue box-y thing in the left hand photo). Connected to the vacuum by a hose is a wand with multiple holes on it.  Special tips connect to the holes. They come in multiple sizes, depending on the size seed you are using. When the vacuum pump is on, air sucks through a hole in the end of the tip and pulls one seed up out of a trough of seeds.  When the wand is positioned over the area you want to sow, seeds stop the suction of the vacuum and the seeds fall down.

This tool made planting much faster, but is still slow and cumbersome compared to the automated industrial vacuum seeders.  In the video below, you can see seeds being sucked up by a cylinder seeder.  It works in the much the same mechanism as I described above, only a lot faster.  (The music is pretty awesome too.)  

Be sure to check out our other tools of the trade posts!