Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Build a Hand-Held Corn and Bean Planter

Planting beans and corn by hand is a pain.  It involves a lot of stoop labor and crawling around on the ground.  I don’t plant enough corn or beans to justify buying an automatic seeder, but I plant enough that it gets very old poking holes in the ground with my finger and dropping a seed into each hole.  I decided to build a hand seeder that would let me stand up to do this job and to, hopefully, make it go a little faster.  The results turned out pretty good, so you may want to build one of these if you find yourself in a similar circumstance.

My seeder is basically just a piece of PVC tubing that I can drop a seed through to plant the seed in a hole.  The nice thing about this simple device is that it also makes the holes and spaces the seeds at the correct interval, and it only cost me about five dollars to build.  Here is how I built it:

The main part of the planter is a piece of ½” PVC that is about 48” long.  You can make it longer or shorter depending on your height.  This tube is what you will drop the seed down to plant it.  To make the tube easier to use, I dropped down about eight inches from the top, cut the tubing, and glued in an inline-T fitting.  I glued about an eight inch long piece of tubing into the T to form a handle.  I glued a cap onto the end of the handle, but this is not really necessary.
To add the seed spacer/hole poker to my planter I came up about six inches from the bottom of the planting tube and glued in another in-line T.  I glued a 5 ½” piece of tubing into this T and then glued an elbow onto the end of the tubing.  I then glued a piece of tubing that is about six inches long into the bottom of the elbow.  At the bottom of this tube I inserted a tapered wooden plug to do the actual hole poking.  The plug is made out of a piece of an old broom handle.  It goes up into the tubing about an inch and sticks out of the tubing about an inch-and-a-quarter.
To hold the plug into the tubing I drilled a 3/16th hole through the tubing and the plug.  I then took a long, narrow bolt and cut the head off of it so that it is like a small piece of all-thread.  I put the all-thread through the hole, put a washer and nut on each side, and snugged them up to the tubing.  I left about an inch of all-thread sticking out on each side.  The all-thread serves as a depth gauge so that I know how deep to push the hole poker into the ground.
The last thing I did was duct tape a small tin can up near the top of the planting tube.  This can is to hold the seeds that I am planting.

The planter is easy to use.  You start a row by using the hole poker to make a planting hole.

Now move the planter so that the planting tube is over the hole.

Take a seed out of the seed can and drop it down the planting tube.

Now press the hole poker down into the soil to make another hole that is six inches farther down the row. Use the all-thread depth gauge to make the hole the proper depth.

Move the planting tube over the new hole, drop a seed, and so on, and so on, and so on.

I plant beans six inches apart and corn twelve inches apart, so it is a simple matter to use the same planter for both types of seed.  I just plant the corn in every other hole.  I have found that this simple device saves me a lot of time and a lot of crawling around on my hands and knees.