Planting Seeds with a Hand Planter

It's All Trew: A handy tool that helped farmers seed blanks and skips in his fields.


| August 2006



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Few will argue the most important of all the processes used in producing a harvest is the planting of seed. Seed planted at the proper depth and spaced the proper distance apart assures the farmer of a good start towards a profitable harvest.

Native Americans and early settlers often used pointed sticks pushed into the soil to provide entry. Seeds were then dropped into the hole, a foot pushed dirt over the seed and pressed the covering soil downward before moving to the next location.

This process was primitive, slow and tiresome, limiting the area that could be planted in a day. Eventually, horse-drawn planters and seeders were invented, allowing larger areas to be planted in a shorter time with less labor.

However, plowing, planting and cultivation equipment of the time was crude, and often did not operate as intended. Add human error or inattention to the process, as well as weather variables, and the resulting stand of new plants often had blank spaces and skips down the rows. Total replanting was not required, but a need arose for a single, hand-operated planting device.

Inventors immediately responded with new tools variously called hand planters, garden planters or skip-row planters. Farmers made the original models, using wood. By the mid-1870s, hundreds of patents for such planters had been issued and many were being manufactured and sold.

Each of the models was designed with an end to be pushed into loose soil to provide a hole. A mechanism was then actuated to drop seeds into the depression. Finally, the operator merely stepped on the spot on the way to the next skipped space.