A DIY Farm Tool For Measuring Seed Planting Depth

Sometimes, the best tool for a farm job isn’t the one the buying guides recommend, but a DIY one you create to serve your exact needs and requirements.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

Sometimes, the best tool for a job isn’t the one the buying guides recommend. It’s the one you create yourself, A DIY farm tool crafted to serve your exact needs and requirements.

I’ve spent the spring planting raised garden beds filled with watermelons, pumpkins and corn. As any gardener knows, the planting requirements of different seeds can vary widely.

How far apart should they be planted? Should they be planted in rows, or mounds? And—perhaps most importantly—what’s the correct seed planting depth for each seed?

Read more: Here’s an accurate way to calculate your soil needs for a raised bed.

Planting Depth Really Does Matter

Carefully measuring the seed planting depth is important if you want to give your seeds the best chance to succeed. Plant seeds at the wrong depth, and they might fail to germinate. Or they could grow poorly once they do.

So how do you measure planting depth? Well, you could prepare holes and measure them one by one with a small tape measure or ruler. But this is slow and unwieldy if you’re planting a lot of seeds.

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Instead, I recommend following the example set by my mother. She constructed a specific, DIY farm tool that simultaneously prepares the holes and measures them to the correct seed planting depth.

How Does The Tool Work?

How does it work? It’s remarkably simple.

Many years ago, my mother took a straight bamboo pole approximately 6 feet long and 1/2 an inch in diameter. She reasoned this could be inserted into the ground to push down soil and create holes for seeds.

At the bottom of the pole, she attached a clothespin. Its exact placement depended on the depth of the hole to she needed to prepare.

If the hole needs to be 1 inch deep, the clothespin is attached 1 inch from the bottom. Thus, all you have to do is insert the bamboo pole until the clothespin contacts the ground. You then know the resulting hole is exactly one inch deep.

My mother has used this bamboo pole planter for years. It does the job well and offers a couple of other advantages, too.

For one, you can prepare holes while standing, which saves some wear and tear on your back and knees. For another, the pole can be used to push seeds straight into the ground when preparing holes is tricky.

If your soil is crumbly and the holes want to backfill as soon as you remove the bamboo pole, you can drop the seeds into the semi-filled holes and push them down to the correct depth with the bamboo pole. Or, you can simply place the seeds on top of the soil and push them down with the pole, creating the hole and planting the seed at the same time.

Read more: Take the DIY challenge and craft your own farm tools from what nature provides.

You Can Use What You Have

A bamboo pole and a clothespin aren’t the only items you can use to create this simple DIY farm tool. While bamboo poles are ideal for their straight and lightweight nature, any stick of the correct height, diameter and shape can be used.

And in place of the clothespin, any readily adjustable seed planting depth indicator can be called into service.

As I write this, I’m happy to report my pumpkin, watermelon and corn plants are growing happily. Clearly, their seeds have responded kindly to being planted at the correct depth.

This I owe entirely to my mother’s invention of the bamboo pole planter.

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