During a visit with our daughter Heather in New York over the past two weeks, Heather's husband Patrick suggested that we tour a nearby 80-acre farm 30 miles north of mid-town Manhattan. The nonprofit Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is a four-season educational center that offers workshops, conferences, lectures, cooking classes, book discussions with noted authors, kids' summer day camps, etc. The farm's sustainable in-season farm-to-table operation includes pastured livestock and garden plots that provide year-round produce for the onsite cafe and restaurant, as well as their weekly farmers market.
Row covers and greenhouses are used to extend the farm's growing season.
I was intrigued by the plants growing so closely together in straight... very straight rows. The space-saving strategy is similar to the "square foot" gardening method except utilizes long rows instead of 12 x 12-inch blocks of space. It would be far too labor intensive for a person to plop one seed at a time into the ground on such a large scale as this farm. What device was used? A farm worker showed me the planting device. It has four or so side-by-side seed compartments attached to a wooden handle. It simultaneously digs tightly-spaced little furrows and drops seeds as you pull it behind you. The settings allow adjustment for different size seeds. I immediately pondered its application in my own small home-gardener plot. Upon one final inquiry, I learned that it was available at Johnny's Seed Company. It turns out that it isn't going to be that simple to locate it, however, since my search on Johnny's web site turned up empty. They do sell a seed planter, but it's different. Its usefulness warrants further persistence.