Not sure if this is the place for it (vs. beginning garden section) but most likely followers of this forum will be able to contribute more.
Went from a small garden last year to a much bigger one this year. Not for market, but for personal use. Fresh produce, canning and freezing, plus stuff to give away to friends and family.
For some reason I got the idea in my head that I needed a garden seeder. Had never used one of any type, so did the usual stuff......checked out online reviews, youtubes, etc. and in the end, purchased a Hoss Wheel Hoe package with the seeder attachment. So far, I've not used the thing in "hoe" mode......only the seeder.
First impression? Again, the only thing I have to compare to (other than a farm tractor pulling a corn planter or grain drill) is digging rows and seeding by hand. So the first thing I noticed is how fast this thing plants. As in about 10X the length of row in about 1/10th the time. If you were only doing a couple 50' rows, you could do that OK with a hoe and go. But before you could get 1/2 the first row laid out, you would be done with the planter. On the other hand, if you are only planting a 10' to 20' row something for a small home garden, it's hardly worth the effort to get the thing out. Just scratch out a row and go. The point being I don't know how large of a garden a person needs to justify one of these planters of any type, but it would have to be on the large side of a personal garden. The average person growing for table produce from a home garden doesn't need one. And even if you do have one, it's only going to work for seeded stuff. Transplants like tomatoes are still done by hand. BTW, total area I'm now planting is about 40' wide x 100' long. Not all of it is seed crops.
Second issue was the first time I used it was early in the spring when I attempted to plant peas in an area freshly broken out from grass sod, so it still had a lot of grass root clumps. Since this has a fixed opener vs. disk openers, it would constantly drag up clumps of root wads and clog up. Lesson learned is it won't plant in a trashy seed bed. A planter with disk openers might, but not with the fixed opener. Lesson learned was these things need a clean, well prepared seed bed to work well. I also tried using it for a short row of spinach. By short, I mean a single 20 foot row. I screwed up somehow, as almost none of it came up. By comparison, the stuff I planted by hand is about ready to start picking. That was discouraging.
Third issue is I found the seed metering on my Hoss to be less than precise. When you study how these work, the Hoss and perhaps the Yang TD-1 seeder have horizontal rotating plates. On the Hoss, the seed drops into the seed plate hole, which then rotates over the drop hole, seed drops by gravity through to the ground where it is buried. For this to work, seed hole has to be large enough the seed is a loose fit or it will bind and stay with the plate past the drop hole for another revolution. So with hole large enough to assure all seed drops, what I'm finding is I get a few double drops if the seed is irregular on the small side. No worries.......I do this by hand now and then too. But a related issue is the seed has to have time to drop. It is only over the drop tube for a short period of time. So what I learned was I had to slow way down to give seed a chance to drop. Accuracy went up when I did, meaning no skips. Still plants way fast, but not as fast as I could walk. So for better accuracy, SLOW DOWN. I plan to try this again on spinach and will SLOW DOWN for it next time.
Also, for really small seeds like carrots and lettuce, these are nearly too small for use with mechanical planters unless you go to pelleted seed, which is almost impossible to find locally. Most of that has to be found mail order and is limited as to variety.
Other than that, I've had no issues with it. Covers well. Press wheel works well. Depth is easily adjustable. And it's easy to push. Actually, it is a joy to use. I think once it and I come to an understanding of proper depth, correct plate size and SPEED for the crop being planted, I'll be OK. I could double or triple what I"m doing now and it would be no more effort as far as planting is concerned. Harvesting and what to do with it all would become the major problems after that.
But since my experience with the HOSS, I've also looked at the Earthway 1001-B seeder to see how they compare. Not the quality, but how they work. On the Earthway and the Jang JP-1 seeders, the seed plates rotate on a vertical axis. The Earthway seed plates have cups that pass through the seed reservoir and as they rise up, pick up the seed, which then passes a long slot near the top of the plate's rotation where the seed has ample time to drop into the elongated slot behind the plate, then tumble into the drop tube. Some say though, you have to "lean" the planter over to the right to improve seed pickup and drop. Again, seed fills the cups in the plate from the side as the cups dip through the seed reservoir. The plates on the Jang JP seeders are not really plates at all......more like rotating drums, with depressions on the edge of the drum for seeds to fall into. On this version of the Jang, the seed reservoir rides on top of the edge of the drum to there is nearly 100% assurance the seed will drop into the dip or depression in the drum and pass on towards the drop hole. On the small seed sizes, these are said to work so well that planting speed is not an issue with them. There are videos with users pushing those at almost a run. The Jang TD seeders have the horizontal plate similar to the HOSS but have a bit more of a slot to work with.
So for cost, Earthway is entry level around $100. Hoss in the middle and Jang and similar way, way on up there at $600 to $700 and up, depending on options and how many of the expensive seed wheels you need. Hard for a home grower to justify a Jang, but if money is no object.............
Also, on the Jang, the JP is said to be for small seeds. The TD is for larger stuff like corn, peas, beans, etc.
Anyway, I would be interested to hear what other's experience is and how they are using their planters. Also, how much area you are planting.
In our larger outdoor gardens, the Garden Seeder works well because it has the rolling coulter furrow opener which is more forgiving in less than ideal soil situations. So if we have leftover organic residue from previous crops, it just runs right through it. We use the Seeder Attachment in our hoop house because it has a more firm, compacted seed bed that is usually pretty clean and free of debris. Both work great, but each have their own place based on soil type and amount of organic debris.
With either of the Hoss Seeders, you MUST test your seed plate and almost always modify the hole size in the seed plate to match the variety of seed you're trying to plant. There's so much variation in seed size between varieties of the same crop and you have to account for this with the seed plate you're using. The differences in seed size between varieties is really evident with crops like corn, beans and peas. But we've even noticed small differences in seed size between varieties of okra and even kale, which are typically thought to be fairly consistent from one variety to the next. The ability to easily customize a seed plate is a big plus for the Hoss. We can customize the hole size and the seed spacing to basically anything we'd like. The seeding mechanism with the Hoss seeders is very simple. It's basically a gravity fed operation -- so if the holes in the seed plate are correct, it performs exceptionally well.
Our issues with the Earthway are many. The aluminum construction is pretty flimsy and the handles aren't very high which makes it difficult for a taller person to use. Also, because it has a vertical seed pickup, you must have a minimal amount of seeds in the hopper for the unit to even operate. This means you're always going to have leftover seeds because it will not plant without filling to a minimal level. The seed plates on the Earthway are difficult, if not impossible to customize. Either you find a variety of corn that works with the plates they have, or you don't plant your corn very well. There's not much compromise.
We've never personally used the Jang, but have several friends that own them. From what we hear the Jang works well for planting small seeds in tight spaces. However the Jang has "rollers" instead of seed plates. These rollers have concave holes that are impossible to replicate with a drill, so you don't have the ability to customize the hole size on the rollers at all. Therefore you basically need a roller for each variety that you intend on planting. And the rollers are usually $20 - $30 each. Compare that to Hoss who sells blank, customizable plates for around $7 each.
It's great that there are several different seeder options for those who like to grow their own food for consumption or for market, but we're very happy with our decision to go with Hoss.
Thanks for the reply. Your experience with the HOSS seems to mirror mine. I just need to gain more experience with it. In the past few days, I planted my third wave of sweet corn along with some pole beans and bush beans. For the beans, I spent some time fiddling with the plates to get the right hole sizing and it seemed to help. I am wondering if it may help to enlarge the holes more than you might think is needed. On the beans, I noticed two things. The round holes running horizontal are actually pretty good at sizing your beans, allowing the smaller seeds to drop and the larger seeds.......those a bit longer than the hole is, to skip, and in a short while, all you have left are the large sized seeds. So maybe make the holes large enough they all fall in and take the doubles to avoid the skips? But I also had a couple doubles wedge in the holes and refused to drop. Those made a couple laps around the pool before they fell out. This seems to be in issue with all seeders with horizontal plates that feed by gravity. Time will tell and I hope to post some photos of my stands once they come up. I would already have done that, except my last planting of sweet corn never made it. We had nearly 10 inches of rain on it right after it was planted, and while it may have survived that, it didn't survive the field mice, which dug up every kernel just as they were starting to sprout.
But again, my observation was that as long as I slowed down to give the seed time to drop into the feed tube, all went well. By slow I mean at least 1/4th the speed of my normal walking pace. Maybe slower. I watch the plate holes as they come past the drop tube. If they are loaded coming out, seed didn't drop. So I slow down until it does. No big deal. That is such a small price to pay for the overall speed and accuracy of planting with one of these things. The other thing I do is to make sure both sides of the brush are loaded with seed. That way it has two chances of filling a hole. I have observed that the first side empties first, so that is a good thing, as two shots at filling the hole assures fewer skips.
On your experience with the Earthway, that too mirrors what I've read. The ironic thing is that in the world of high tech farming, those vertical rotating seed plates are used almost exclusively as the most accurate method of metering seed. We are talking corn and soybean planters that cost well over $100,000 in which vast sums have been spent on research to achieve near perfectly spaced stands........no skips and no doubles.......and they use vertical plates like those on the Earthway to do it. Although most modern planters use air pressure to pick up then hold the seed, Kinze pioneered the use of these with a mechanical system that used only brushes to load the seed. It seems like such a system should work on these smaller planters too. Of course the commercial guys are only seeding a handful of crops. These garden seeders are expected to do it all. This is clearly in evidence with the Jang, which uses all those drums........they may offer 20 or more, plus an assortment of cogs for the chains.
I now have access to an Earthway and hope to give it a try. Curious to see what happens. Am also curious about both Jang seeders.......but for now, I'm not curious enough to pop for one!
Finally got a chance to borrow and use the Earthway seeder. I was surprised to discover I like it better. The build quality.....if measured by the heft of the thing.....is no where near what the Hoss is, but for me, it is all about accurately metering out the seed. In my case, the Earthway was head and shoulders above what I was able to achieve with the Hoss. On the green beans, I was watching it drop and it was flawless. And when they came up, the stand was even. Same with the sweet corn. By comparison, while watching the Hoss, I would see some seeds spin around 3 or 4 revolutions before dropping and that was after I had already enlarged the holes. The rows planted by the Hoss, when they came up, have included a large mix of skips and doubles. In very few places was the stand even. Worse, that was the case also with peas and a couple other crops I tried like spinach. Have not tried the Earthway on either of those, but plan to.
So for now, if I was picking one over the other, I'd take the Earthway if it was even money. Still plan to keep working with both, but for a seeder for a small home garden planting green beans, sweet corn, peas, etc., the Earthway looks hard to beat. In my humble opinion, the vertical plates do a much better job of evenly picking up and dropping the seeds in the elongated slot above the feeder tube. That is where 100% of the difference lies.
PS: I should mention the unit I borrowed is an older one. Green wheels and red seed hopper. Old enough the sweet corn plate has 4 slots to plant 9" spacing. It may be different than the newer ones.
I think if you tried planting several different varieties of corn or beans, you might would find that your success with the Earthway was a bit of serendipitous luck. In my experiences, the Earthway can't accommodate for the wide range in seed variation among varieties of crops like corn or beans. For example, it might plant Stowell's Evergreen exceptionally well, but it's going to do a terrible job at planting Ambrosia. It might plant Blue Lake beans really well, but does a terrible job with other varieties.
With the Hoss, I can make a plate for each variety I'm planting. So it's not up to chance. And the effectiveness of the Seeder is in my hands because I'm making a plate that works perfectly for that variety.
I'm also not a fan of the vertical seed plates because it means you need a certain amount of seed in the hopper for it to work. The Earthway will never empty the seed hopper completely. So you always need more seed than you'll actually use.
Either way, the best thing to do is to use what works for you. Thanks for the update.
I've only used my Earthway so I can't compare but I will say it was only slightly useful to me this year. I have rough beds, clumps and clay, and there was no chance of the blade cutting a slice to seed into. I did use to plant 580 feet of green beans (5 varieties) and it dropped with about 75% accuracy. Almost no skips but enough doubles to be noticeable in the bush beans. It is however much easier than leaning over to drop them. It is also ultra short, I'm 6' tall and it feels like a child's toy. I'll keep mine because I got it ultra cheap but I would never buy another.
Thanks everyone for your input. I'm considering a push seeder and am leaning towards the Hoss after learning from here that it can still plant in "less than ideal" soils. The Earthway just seems too lightweight for our situation. I'm also tempted by the Jang, but it seems pricey, especially when you factor in the seed rollers...
I'm mostly direct seeding small / irregular-shaped seeds: mustards, cutting lettuce, carrots, turnips, radishes, dill, parsnips. Then the big stuff: beans, peas, cilantro. We're up in Zone 5A and found that transplanted beets did better for us last season than direct seeded. Though I may still direct seed those to see how they compare over time.
Wayne, do you find that the Hoss Seeder does well with a wide range of seed sizes / shapes, especially because you can customize the plates? Or does it excel with particular seeds and struggle with others? Also, do you do a lot of thinning with the Hoss? I've heard that the Earthway tends to overseed, particularly small seeds, so you end up spending lots of time thinning. Hoping that's not as true for the Hoss.
Anyone out there using a Jang or other push seeder (maybe a Planet Jr)?