Seeding jigs

I’ve been wanting a seed planting jig for a long, long time, ever since I saw one in some gardening book many years ago.  Imagine, perfectly spaced carrots, spinach, scallions, leeks?  My garden would look like a magazine photo!  OK, probably not, but still, how cool would that be, especially with my current strategy of intensive planting using a Square Foot Gardening model.  I knew I could make a jig, but the thought of correctly drilling 16 perfectly evenly spaced holes per square foot without a drill press was a little daunting.  Still, it was on the someday list.

Then I read about Laura’s planting jig on her blog, the Modern Victory Garden.  It was a brilliant solution to the lack of a drill press!  Brilliant!  Laura used pegboard glued to a plywood back, and made the dibbles with dowel pins and added handles for ease of use.  So. Very. Clever.

Over the holidays, Dan and I made our own version of her jig.  Laura’s jigs were all 2’x 2′ in size, and I did make one of that size in the 16/square version, but I elected to make several 1′ squares primarily because I was utilizing scrap plywood Dan and I had gathered from the town transfer station in our longstanding habit of dump picking or freecycling, and the scraps were generally smaller in size.  A second reason for making them smaller is for flexibility;  I can always move down the plot making several seed beds with the 1’x 1′ jig, but if the area I want to seed is smaller than 2’x 2′, I would be out of luck.

We picked up the pegboard and the dowel pins a few weeks ago in anticipation of working on this project over vacation.  Our materials:

$6.20 — 1 sheet of 2’x 4″ pegboard
$3.96 — 2 bxs (72 ct.) of fluted dowel pins @ $1.98 ea.
$2.10 — 21 screws @ $.10 ea.
$8.76 — 4 drawer pulls @$2.19 ea.*
$2.49 — 1 tube construction adhesive
Total $23.51 +1.18 tax = $24.67
* we only needed 1 drawer pull as we had some used scrounged handles in inventory
less $6.90 for unused handles == $17.77

We cut the pegboard and plywood to size on our handy table saw or with a jig saw (after checking to make sure there were no hidden nails or screws in the used lumber!).  Once the cuts were made, the jigs went together easily.  A squirt of adhesive, screws to hold it all together, and done.  The most difficult part was spacing the dowel pins, as I am spatially challenged.  Dan was a big help there, pointing out that spaces left around the edge would be doubled when using the jig again next to the first square.  In the end, I made jigs for seed spacing of 4, 9, and 16 seeds per square inch, reflecting the spacing I most commonly use for my square foot planting scheme.

Dan marked the actual location of the dibbles on the back of each jig for reference when using them, and noted the number of seeds per square.  The last steps were to add the drawer pulls and an eye screw for hanging the jigs when not in use.

The final piece of the project was a tamper, to firm the seedbed and ensure good soil contact for the seeds.  Again we used scrap plywood, a thinner piece to which I added a piece of leftover 1′ pine board to stiffen it and attach a handle.  I still need to make the larger 2’x 2′ tamper but that will wait until another piece of appropriately sized plywood surfaces, maybe tomorrow when the transfer station opens.  You never know when something good will turn up.

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9 Responses to “Seeding jigs”

  1. The Mom Says:

    Awesome! Laura always has the best ideas.

  2. kate@livingthefrugallife Says:

    Definitely awesome! What a cool idea and a great project for cooped-up gardeners this time of year. I’ve had planting templates on my mind too, but I may have to add this one to my list. I think it’s Eliot Coleman who has something similar, btw. But instead of holes made with dowels, he uses a jig with attached cubes that match the size of the soil blocks used for seed starting. Then he can just plunk the seedling right down in a hole made to match. Pretty slick!

    • Ali Says:

      Oooh, love that idea, especially as Santa Dan gave me a soil blocker for Christmas. Hmmm, the wheels are turning!

  3. villager Says:

    Great idea! I need to make a jig for planting garlic. Dowels at 6″ spacing would work for me. Anything to save time and effort at planting is wonderful. And there’s nothing better than re-using and saving some money as well.

    • Ali Says:

      Yet another good idea. You could do something similar, but glue wooden beads over the dowels to make larger/deeper planting holes for the cloves. I’m liking that idea, as it would also work for shallots, which I tried this year.

  4. Sara Says:

    Wow, that’s a great idea, thanks for the tip.

  5. jeannie Says:

    You two are great!

  6. Alison Says:

    I like how you think, I made one also but found that those dowels were too small and you couldn’t even see the holes, I love the wooden bead at the end of the dowel idea.
    Thanks

  7. meemsnyc Says:

    Wow, what a great DIY project! I’ll have to show my husband this!

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