An innovative approach by an Ohio flower farm, in which he built a 4-row Earthway Seeder, meant faster seeding and transplanting of sunflowers.
Steve Adams ganged four Earthway seeders into a single four-row unit for seeding and transplanting. It provided a big boost in productivity for Adams and his wife, Gretel, who raise and sell fresh flowers at Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus, Ohio.
“I was planting sunflowers in 300-foot beds with four rows per bed for about 48,000 row feet of sunflowers in total,” says Adams. “That meant walking each bed four times. I had one seeder and was given another when I realized that for a few hundred dollars, I could cut out three trips on each bed.”
Adams bought the two additional Earthways he needed. He removed the front and rear axles and replaced them with 4-foot lengths of 3⁄8-inch all-thread rod. PVC spacers gave him a consistent 10-inch space between rows. He then removed the handles, eliminating one and reattaching the other three so each handle spanned two machines. All three handles were then connected with a row-marker rod cut to fit.
“Ganging the seeders made them more stable,” Adams explains. “With one, if you hit a rock or a hard clump of dirt, it jumps. With four together, that doesn’t happen.”
The couple wanted to move to cultivating with a tractor-mounted unit. The ganged seeder not only sped up planting, it left uniform spacing, making mechanical cultivation possible.
“Since ganging the seeders, I changed everything over to four-row beds,” says Adams. “I use the ganged Earthway seeders to mark the beds for transplants.”
Finding low-cost alternatives like ganged seeders is just one reason the couple has been able to create a full-time business growing flowers. They currently farm about 7 acres of flowers. While old-school growers tell them you can’t make money competing with imported flowers, they say they are doing fine. With heated hoop tunnels, they have fresh flowers from March to December.
Reprinted with permission from FARM SHOW Magazine.