How to Make a Seed Planting Bar

March 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Tools and Equipment

This year my zone 1 garden design will mix many plants in a nice polyculture. While this is all well and good for the plants, it does make planting more complicated. Planting like plants in rows is much easier to do, but the benefits of a polyculture far outweigh the drawbacks of the extra labor. In order to ease some of that labor, I decided to come up with an easier way to plant my seeds.


I normally rake the mulch back, and use a diamond hoe to make a furrow for the depth required. Then I put the seed in the furrow at the appropriate spacing. After that I rake the soil back. For large seed, I also rake the mulch back, but for small seed I wait until the plants get large enough to put the mulch back, so as not to bury the seed.


This way is not versatile enough to plant the mixtures of seeds and depths that are required when planting a polyculture. So, I came up with a planting bar design, that would make it much easier. The basic idea is to take a 2x4 and install wooden dowels into the 2x4 spaced at 2 inches apart and sticking out 1 inch. This gives me spacing that works for a lot of plants, and if pushed all the way down, a one inch depth is the max depth for most seeds. You can regulate for less depth as well, by simply not pressing down quite as far. It also creates a situation where you do not need to disturb the soil much at all for planting. The soil would need to be somewhat loose for this to work well. A good garden should have relatively loose soil without tilling.

Planting Bar

The dowels create little depressions in the soil which would naturally collect water and nutrients for the seed placed in the depression. It would be easy to place a small amount of compost in the depressions to cover the seed if needed. You could also rake a little of the nearby soil into the depression. Then I attached the planting bar to one of my rakes, so I can make these depressions without having to bend over.

Planting bar

Step by Step Instructions ‘=feet “=inches

1. Cut a 2x4 the same length as the head of the rake you wish to attach your planting bar. Mine was 18” long.


2. Make a mark at 2” intervals along the middle of the 2x4. Make sure to leave 2” of space at the ends.   


3. Drill a 1” deep hole into each mark. It is important that you drill exactly 1”, otherwise you will get varying planting depths. Use a 7/8”, ¾”, or a ½” drill bit, depending on what size wooden dowel you want to use. I used an oak 7/8” dowel, but if I did it over, I would go with a 1/2” dowel.


4. Cut your dowels exactly 2” long. It is important that they are the same size otherwise you will get varying planting depths.


5. Apply wood glue to the drill holes, and place the dowels in the holes. You will need to hammer them in place.


6. Wait until the wood glue dries.


7. Clamp your planting bar to an old metal rake. Then pre-drill your holes.


8. Use washers and deck screws to attach the planting bar to your rake. If you ever want to dismantle the setup, all you have to do is remove the deck screws.

Planting bar attached to an old rake


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