Sattin Hill Market Farming Course Module 13: Direct Seeding (FSFS251)

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Episode Summary

This episode of Farm Small Farm Smart features the thirteenth module of the Sattin Hill Market Farming Course, where Josh Sattin talks about the advantages of direct seeding, how to use a precision seeder, and some considerations before starting direct seeding.

Today’s Guest: Josh Sattin

Josh Sattin is a farmer at Sattin Hill Farm in Raleigh, North North Carolina. As an educator and professional videographer, Josh has published hundreds of educational farming videos on his YouTube to help make a difference in the local farming and foodscape.

            Josh Sattin – YouTube | Instagram | Website

In this episode of Farm Small, Farm Smart

  • An overview of the Sattin Hill Farm Course Module 13 (00:55)
  • Why you should consider to direct seed crops (01:08)
    • Some crops perform better when direct-seeded  (01:12)
    • Allows for flexibility (01:38)
    • Maximizes yield along with interplanting (02:10)
  • Plan ahead and watch the weather (02:39)
  • Stick your hand into the soil to check the moisture (03:53)
  • Make sure your irrigation is reliable (04:30)
  • Why a precision seeder is a must-have for your farm (05:16)
    • The Earthway Seeder: pros and cons (06:07)
    • The Jang Seeder: pros and cons (06:52)
  • The anatomy of the Jang Seeder and how it works (08:56)
  • How to set up the Jang Seeder (10:39)
    • Pro Tip: Take the hopper out (11:00)
    • Adjusting the seed spacing on the Jang Seeder (11:57)
  • Seeding with different rows per bed (14:08)
  • Double-check that seeds are coming out of the seeder (15:33)
  • Spacings and Jang rollers that Josh uses (17:30)
  • Josh’s last tips on direct seeding (18:44)
    • Germinating in the summertime (18:49)
    • Running a seeder on a no-till bed (19:19)

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FSFS251 (SHFC #13)

[00:00:00] Diego Footer: Welcome to farm small farm smart. I'm your host Diego, DIEGO. Today, it's Sattin Hill farm course module 13 on direct seeding. If you want to learn more about this module, go to and there, you can download resources related to this module and all the other modules covered by Josh and his course.

[00:00:23] If you want to watch this module, check it out on YouTube by searching for Josh Sattin. Now let's jump right into it. Module 13 of the sat and hill farm course with Josh Sattin.

[00:00:37] Josh Sattin: Welcome to module 13 of the satin hill farm course. This module is all about direct seeding. And before we get into it, I just had to have a huge thanks to our sponsor, Paperpot Co. Without the help of Diego and Paperpot Co., this entire course wouldn't be possible.

[00:00:48] And Paperpot�s going to be doing a giveaway. So if you'd like to hear about the details of that, there'll be later on in this video, in this module, I'll cover why you want to be direct seeding using a precision seeder, temperature, moisture, and some other tips. I talked about this, a good amount in the last module, which was about transplanting.

[00:01:07] And I talked a lot about the reasons for transplanting versus direct seeding. And the main reason for direct seeding is that certain crops will do better when you direct see them. For example, carrots, baby greens, like baby kale, a rugala spinach, radish, turnips. Those kinds of crops are going to do much better with direct seeding.

[00:01:24] And in fact, some of those will not work as transplants altogether. Another thing too, to think about with Drexciya. Is the temperature that you haven't really out to. So that will depend on whether you want to direct seed something or transplant it, but we'll get into more of that later. There's a lot of flexibility with direct seeding, which I talked about in the crop planning module.

[00:01:41] So if you have your transplants ready, but then you have a few open. You can always direct see them with crops. So having crops available that you can direct seed when you have an open bed is super fantastic for getting high yields. For example, I always have carrots on hand because when I have an open bed, I planted with carrots because usually carrots are easy to sell and everybody loves them.

[00:02:01] Another nice thing is for inter planting. So hopefully you got to watch the last module, which was about transplanting, an inner planting. If you are growing tall crops. Peppers tomatoes, cucumbers. You can plant other things on the side of them, right? When you transplant those bigger crops, because it going to take a while to grow up tall.

[00:02:17] So it's easy to direct seed something on this. That grows quickly, like maybe a re a rugala or radish. So it's great for, for that also in terms of, uh, time input as a farmer drug seeding is super quick, right? If you have a direct, a precision seeder, which I'm gonna talk about later in this module, you can just run up and down the beds a couple of times, and you've got to plant it. It's a lot quicker than transplanted.

[00:02:39] Temperature can play a major role in your success with direct seeding. One thing is you want to do is make sure you watch the weather. And a lot of people are trying to direct seed like in the spring when it's cool. And you want to make sure you're you plan ahead and you look at the weather.

[00:02:52] So if you're trying to plant out in the spring, for example, and you have a couple of cold days, but three or four days down the road, you're going to have a streak of warmer days. We'll wait till then to get your planting done in. Similarly, if you're planting right now and it's going to get cold in a day or two, you don't, you might want to wait until it warms up again.

[00:03:09] So make sure you plan ahead and look at the weather because you want to make sure. That it's warm enough for the entire period of the germination or at least most of it. So to give your seeds the best chance, one thing that can be really helpful with direct seeding and maintaining temperature of course, is using tunnels because what you can do in the cooler months is close up the tunnels in the afternoon and trap as much heat in there and warm up the soil.

[00:03:30] And that's, what's going to be the most important is the soil temperature, because that's where the seeds are hanging out to germinate. So if it's warm enough in there, then they will grow. And similarly, if you're trying to direct seed in the summertime, It's a little bit trickier if it's really hot outside, because some crops won't germinate when it's super warm out.

[00:03:45] So make sure you plan ahead, look at the weather and understand the limitations and needs of the crops that you're growing. Moisture in the soil is also a huge factor in getting good germination for direct seeded crops. And what you really want to do is make sure that you're actually checking the soil to determine the moisture level.

[00:04:03] So sometimes I'll walk by a bed and it'll look really dry because the wind has swept across it in the top little bit of the soil. Dry, but the actual soil underneath is wet. So make sure that you actually are sticking your hands in the soil and making sure that the moisture is good. You want to make sure that it is moist.

[00:04:19] There is moisture there, but you want to make sure it's not super, super wet and soggy because then the seeds will just rot. So this will take a little trial and error and learning, but you'll figure it out. You'll see what works and, and you'll try to be more consistent with it. I fell into this trap early about relying on my irrigation system to get things to germinate, especially with drip irrigation.

[00:04:37] So if you have drip irrigation, you probably know that does not cover the entire bed and keep it moist. And so you can't use that to rely on, to get seeds to germinate. If you have a nice overhead system, you can soak the ground pretty evenly and get good germination. For me here. Like my beds are all different from bed to bed.

[00:04:55] And so I actually just wind up hand watering the bed just to make sure that they germinate. So in the first few days after direct seating, I'm going to check the moisture level and just hand watering those beds as they need so that I can get good germination. Even though you have systems in place. It's still really helpful to be able to go in there and hand water, because the most important time for drug seeded crops is in that first few days to get the seeds germinate.

[00:05:16] Now let's get on to talking about using a precision seeder, and these are crucial to having a successful farm operation, and I can't recommend having a seeder enough and the reason. Is that when you're using a seeder and not seeding by hand, of course it's going to be faster, but you get a consistent depth and spacing of your planting.

[00:05:38] So it goes in at the right depth and it has the spacing that you need. Now, one thing you really want to avoid is thinner. I hear a lot of gardeners talk about this because they're seeding by hand. So they don't have a consistent rate. They're dropping seeds in, and sometimes you'll oversee it and then have to go back and fittings a waste of time.

[00:05:53] Like I said, with, with transplanting, you put one seed in each soil block. You don't have to come back and thin you don't want to be doing that. It's a waste of time. So there are two Cedars that I've used and. I see people talking about. And the first one of which is the Earthway seeder, this is a pretty inexpensive Cedar.

[00:06:08] It is something you can get started with, but frankly it has a lot of limitations and I really don't use it. And there are a couple of applications I would consider using it. One of which has really big seeds. If you're planting corn or peas or beans or something like that, that's something you can use it for.

[00:06:23] You can also use this to side dress. If you're using dry amendments, you can put dry amendments in here and run this, but besides your tomatoes or something like that. So I haven't done that, but I've seen people do that. Otherwise, this is a fairly inexpensive, not super well-made tool. It does come with different plates that you can change out, but it's not very accurate, especially for small seeds.

[00:06:42] And most of the time that I'm direct seeding, I'm direct seeding, really small seeds like carrots and kale and radish and stuff like that. So this thing is not super accurate for all of those reasons. So what I do use and highly recommend is the Jang Cedar. So this is an amazing tool and I'm going to go through all the tools that I use and recommend in the next module.

[00:07:04] But this one, I don't think is optional. If you're getting into market gardening, it is a little bit pricey. It is super well-made. I've had zero issues with this since I bought it. And it's really changed the game for market gardening, they come in different numbers of rows. You can get ones that have three hoppers, five hoppers, I'm big fan of the one hopper.

[00:07:24] This one. Just because I just make a couple more passes and allows more flexibility. I would say if you're not sure what you want to get them one with a one hopper, cause you can use it for everything. Or there's some farms that are really dialed in with certain crops and have to plant a lot of beds.

[00:07:37] And so they use the three or the five, depending on what they're doing then could save you even more time. But for me, I think the one is great. So what I want to do is talk a little bit about this tool in particular, how it works and all the little pieces and everything. So the reason why this is so accurate is that there's a.

[00:07:53] Uh, gear system in here. Let me jump in here real quick and take a minute to talk about our sponsor paper pot co, as I mentioned at the end of this module, this entire course is sponsored by paved co I continuously amazed by the support and generosity of Diego and paid pot coach to the farming community for doing stuff like this course and making this a hundred percent free and available for everyone.

[00:08:13] If it wasn't for their support, I definitely would not be able to. In addition to that, there'll be giving away several Jang seeders, which I mentioned the giveaway at the beginning of if you want to enter the giveaway because you think the jinx Cedar's a cool tool, which I definitely recommend there's details in the description down below.

[00:08:27] If you'd like to pick up a Jang seeder, go over and check out the website, PayPal There's also awesome tools, equipment, and supplies, and they're great place to buy things from, in addition to all those things that paper pot co offers, Diego is an awesome podcasts or check out his podcast, Farm Small Farm Smart and his new one, Carrot Cashflow.

[00:08:43] There's also additional resources for this course over at Go check out the link in description down below. If you want enter the details. Thanks paper pot. Back to the module. Let's go through the anatomy of the Jang and I'll show you how it works and then how to adjust it and how to use it and all that kind of stuff.

[00:09:00] So it's an awesome tool because there's no gas or electricity. There's no motor involved. It just works by pushing it through the soil. Fantastic. It's very reliable. So all the action happens with the front wheel. This is what drives the system. The rear wheel just compresses the ground after you're done, I'll show you that.

[00:09:15] And so when this front wheel is moving through the ground or over the ground, it's going to turn the whole system, the two gears in here with a chain that then turns the hopper and drops seeds. So underneath, just so you can understand what's going on here, as you're pushing it through, this is a furrow.

[00:09:29] So this will open up the ground. The seeds will come out here. This is called a shoe. This is what closes up the. Is the opening and the ground, and then the rear wheel, which will pass over at the very end. We'll compress it and make it really nice and ready for germination. So that's how it works. Let me show you how to set it up.

[00:09:46] So inside here are going to be your gears that you can change out. And the spacing for the crops is going to be based on. The gear ratio that's in here and also the rollers. So I'll talk more about the rollers in a minute, but basically there is going to be a letter or two letters for the roller and then a number.

[00:10:05] So this is the XY24. So I use this one for carrots. So the XY determines the kind of holes are in it. The XY is a weird one. It's got this cross pattern and I said, that's great for carrots, but the 24 is the number of. So based on the gear ratio, front and back, and also number of holes, you'll get a certain spacing and that's on here too.

[00:10:26] If you're looking for more information about spacing, there's an awesome resource on the paper pot go website, which I will leave link down below that goes through all this stuff and recommendations for different crops and all that stuff. So way more information than I'm going to provide you today.

[00:10:38] Cause I don't grow that many different things. So let me show you how to set this up. So inside here you take out these two thumb screws. You have the gears in here. So right now this is set up. We're going to plant radish today. So we have 14 in the front and 10 in the back. So that's what those numbers mean.

[00:10:56] Remember, the front is what the big wheel. So one thing I always recommend when you're setting up your Jang is to take the hopper out. It makes it a lot easier. So to do that, there's a button in the back here, you press it down and then you pop it in. And I'll show you how to install it when we put it back in, let's take this out here.

[00:11:13] And the reason for that is that when that's out this one, this piece will spend freely. It's a lot easier to line up the gears. So a little pro tip right there. So I'll just pull this out to show you, but this is set up, as I said, for 14 in the front 10 in the back. So what you'll do is you'll determine your spacing for each crop based on the rollers and the, the roller you picked and then the gear.

[00:11:31] So what I do is I put the first one on. And then feed the chain through above the spring here. And then what I said before about keeping this loose over here is that I can easily spin this. If the hopper was still in there, this is a little bit harder to spin. So I take the hopper out and then I just line up this right here, and this is ready to go.

[00:11:52] Then I'll put the cover back on.

[00:11:57] So as I said, the spacing for the crops is going to be based on the gear ratio. And the rollers. So the roller goes in the hopper. This is where the seeds go. So let me show you how to swap that out really quickly. There's a thumbscrew here.

[00:12:17] Ms. Opens over here. You have a pin that you have to pull out, and then this is a gear with a shaft and you pull this out and then you get your roller out. So, as I said, we're going to be planting radish right now. So this is the one I used to radish. And the thing about the shaft with the gear is that it's flat on one side.

[00:12:39] So you make sure that fits in, make sure it goes in on the right side or actually the way I'm holding it. Now, I don't know if it's right or left, but when you put it in, you'll know if it's wrong, you'll get used to which one it goes through. And then again, pop the pin back. And then close it up. One of the things you have to adjust to here is the brush.

[00:12:58] And so you can make the brush go up and down. The one thing I've used the brush up for was spinach, but I don't really plant that very often, but you'll see the settings from people, they'll say brush up or brush down. I keep the brush down for everything, but spinach, I believe. And then he put this. So what's going to happen here is that this.

[00:13:16] In the main body of the Jang, will turn this gear and that will drop seeds out the bottom. So again, very simple, very robust. So let's get the set up to, to get some seating done. So to pot, put the hopper back in. What I do is there's two pins here that sit right in here, so pops in the front, and then you pull this lever back and this drops in and now you're ready to start seeding.

[00:13:39] Another great thing about the Jang seeder is that it has a lid, which is great because seeds fall out sometimes. And of course, if it's any moisture or anything like that outside, then you're going to have trouble. Make sure you do that. But the lid on which is a great feature, you don't have to have the lid on, but I love it.

[00:13:54] So just put your seeds in. Instead said we're gonna plant some radish right now. And you don't have to put all of them in there, but make sure you have enough in there so that you can get the planting done that needs to get done. And let's go plant some radish before I start running the seeder, I just want to talk about how to get your lines in your beds, because if any, on the number of rows that you're planting, you're going to have to figure out how to put that in the bed.

[00:14:17] So my most seat direct seeded crop is carrot. So my approach with carrots is that I'll run. And of course I have the string lines out. Like I usually do, which really help everything in the ground straight, which you talked about in the bed flipped module and also the transplanting module. So for five rows, I'll run one down this side, run one down this side or run one down the middle and then I'll just split the difference.

[00:14:37] I'll run went through. And went through there. That'll give me five rows. If I'm doing other ones, you'll figure out your systems. For example, if I'm doing four rows, I'll run one down each side and then I'll just have to eyeball the four. Not super hard. If you're doing something like seven I'll run one down each side.

[00:14:59] One down the middle and then I'll have to do two here and two there. So gave me seven threes, easy, obviously down the sides and down the middle, but you'll figure out your patterns and just keep track of it. When I had interns doing this, I told them not to talk to anyone while they do the next cause you can get confused, especially when doing a lot of rows in each bed.

[00:15:17] So we get the Cedar out and just. Sure how it works. Couple of things. I want to point out by the Cedar before I start putting seeds in the ground is you can adjust the handle left or right. If you're going to be on either side of the bed, usually I just leave in the middle cause I can make it work. It's also tricky when you're on the sides of the tunnels are the beds are on the size of the tunnels.

[00:15:33] But one thing before you get started is that I always recommend that you just hold the Cedar like this and just spin the front wheel. And make sure you seed seeds coming out of the bottom. If the hoppers out in right, or something's not lined up, right. You can go and see it and you'll think you're seeding it, but there's no seeds coming out.

[00:15:47] So what I do is I always do that before I start seeding, as they just flip the front wheel and make sure a few seeds come out. So for this, as I said, I'm doing a radish five rows. So I'm going to do the outside ones first, then the middle, and then split the difference. And all you have to do is walk the Cedar up until.

[00:16:08] And I think we all usually want to rush this, but the best thing you can do is just take your time and try to get the roads as straight as possible. So when you get to the end, remember that the seeds are coming out of the middle section. So you wanna make sure that gets all the way to the end. We turn around.

[00:16:26] If the front wheel is not spinning, you're not dropping seeds. Just keep that in mind. So I did the outer ones. Now I'm doing the middle one and then I'll split the difference. I think five rows is probably one of the easier ones because the spacings and stuff work out really well. You can see all the different ones that you've planted.

[00:16:45] Now that we got all the seeds in the ground, I'm just going to take the hopper out and pour the seeds back into the bag, which is a super handy. Super easy.

[00:16:57] There you go. Put these back into the seeds, back in the fridge. And so now the seeds are on the ground. The only thing I have left to do is to water them in and put the drip tape back in, got that all done and cooled off a little bit. It's pretty warm out today. So you can see how easy it is to see the bed.

[00:17:13] And I can't stress enough, the importance of having a Jang seeder on your farm and the place that obviously recommend to go get it would be, and Diego's putting together a package with the rollers that I use frequently. And you can buy the Jean seeder and those rollers as a package. So I want to tell you now about the rollers that I use and the spacings that I recommend, and these aren't going to work for everybody, but this is what I found works for me.

[00:17:36] Of course, what I recommend is that you might start with this and then make adjustments and keep notes of what you do. And then you'll dial it in after a few rounds. So, as I said, several times, I don't grow a wide variety of crops. And so I only use three rollers, but I really recommend you just get the rollers that you need for the crops that you grow.

[00:17:52] Don't just buy a whole bunch of rollers because they can add a pretty quickly, and you're not going to use them. So let me give you. My rollers in spaces and self I'll also leave this in the description down below. So the three rollers I use are the XY 24, the F24 and the X24. So for example, carrots, I will sew that out in five rows with the XY 24 roller 13 in the front 11 in the back radish, which I just did was five rows with the F24, 14 in the front 10.

[00:18:20] Arugula, I do seven rows with the X 24 11 in the front 13 in the back, baby, kale, Tatsu and mustard, those kinds of greens. I do seven rows with the 14 in the front, nine in the back. So this ad, those are just what I've been using. And sometimes I have to tweak them a little bit, but after a while, you'll get that dialed in.

[00:18:39] Of course, take notes. And you'll dial it in and get awesome yields on your farm. A couple other glass tips here. I want to mention about direct seating. If you're trying to get crops to germinate in the summertime and the soil is too warm and you're losing too much moisture. I know some farmers that cut three or four foot wide strips of silence.

[00:18:56] And put them on the bed with a white side facing up. So they'll direct. See the crop, the water it in, and then they'll put the tarp on with the white side facing up. So what that does is it locks the moisture in which is great and also reflects a lot of the heat. Cause the white side is facing up. The one thing you have to be really careful of is checking it really often because as soon as the seeds germinate and they pop out of the ground, you've got to get the tarp off or they're going to get super leggy and the plants are going to make it, but it can be a very effective method.

[00:19:19] Another thing I want to just briefly talk on here. If you're running a no till system and you're leaving the roots in the ground, some people struggle with running a Cedar through the beds. And one of the ways you can get around this is by planting in a different number of rows. Then the plants are that you just terminated.

[00:19:36] For example, if I had lettuce in the ground, which is generally planted out at four rows, and I let the roots in the ground, I would follow that with a direct seated crop of three rows or five rows. So I'm just going between where the. So just keep that in mind and you can stagger them that way you can help that in your crop planning, but I know there's some people that have trouble when they're leave roots in the ground.

[00:19:55] So the best you can do is just plant around them. So plant them with a different number of rows than the plant is already in the ground. Now, remember, there'll be live Q and A's, as I've been saying every Monday at 3:00 PM, Eastern on this YouTube channel and the next module 14 will be about tools and supplies.

[00:20:14] Diego Footer: There you have it. Josh says. On direct seeding, that was module 13 of the sat and hill farm course. If you want to download resources related to this module and all the other modules go to paper, That's all for this one. Thanks for listening. We'll be back next week with module 14 until then be nice.

[00:20:38] Be thankful and do the work.


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