I recently received this great submission from listener/reader Bernie Woodford of Woodford Heirloom Farm. Bernie balked at the price of commercial vacuum seeders ($600 US for the base unit), opting to build his own. He has generously shared the results with us: a working vacuum seeder that cost him $20 plus the cost of his shop-vac. Photos, written description, and podcast episode below, but first...what the hell's a vacuum seeder?
...and here's Bernie's submission:
I made a vacuum seeder for less than $20. It's a baking sheet from a restaurant supply store ($6), a tote box from Lowes ($8), and some liquid nails ($4) and sheet metal screws.
What I did was marked out the location of a 72 cell flat (I use 72 cell flats, these can be made to fit any flat variation) on the baking sheet then drilled holes for each cell with the smallest bit I had in a standard bit set. I then applied liquid nails to the rim of the tote and placed it on the underside of the baking sheet. The tote positioned so that the entire area of the flat is under vacuum when its on so that each seed hole works as it should. I then placed a couple of sheet metal screws through the rim of the tote to hold it better and let it all dry. I then drilled out a hole the diameter of the vacuum hose end into one end of the tote. The hose end goes in the hole in the tote and its pretty tight so it creates a good vacuum. The only problem I've had with it is that even the smallest bit in a standard bit set is still too big for brassica seeds and some of them get sucked up through the hole. It's awesome on watermelon seeds (as pictured), squash, etc. Anything larger than a brassica seed works well.
I made a flat guide so that everything lines up when its flipped over above the flat. It's just a simple frame with an arrow on it and the arrows line up. I had to put a piece of scrap wood along one side to eliminate the gap on the side. So when the seeder is pressed on the one long side with the scrap wood AND the short side with the arrows then I know everything is lined up and the seeds will drop in each hole.
If anyone has any questions I'd be happy to answer them via my farm's website address: Bernie@woodfordheirloomfarm.com
I also spoke with Bernie about his project, and a group he has formed called Farmers for Liberty. Listen below: