Horticulture/Sowing

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Sowing is the simplest (and often the least expensive) way to bring introduce new plants into the garden. Seeds can be sown directly into the garden (in situ), or in containers where they are grown to a hardy size for transplanting into the garden.

In large gardens and farms, seeds are almost always sown in situ, to avoid the additional labor involved in transplanting.

Hand sowing is the process of casting handfuls of seed over prepared ground: broadcasting. Usually, a drag or harrow is employed to incorporate the seed into the soil. Though labor intensive for any but small areas, this method is still used in some situations. Practice is required to sow evenly and at the desired rate. A hand seeder can be used for sowing, though it is less of a help than it is for the smaller seeds of grasses and legumes.

In agriculture, most seed is now sown using a seed drill, which offers greater precision; seed is sown evenly and at the desired rate. The drill also places the seed at a measured distance below the soil, so that less seed is required. The standard design uses a fluted feed metering system, which is volumetric in nature; individual seeds are not counted. Rows are typically about 10-30 cm apart, depending on the crop species and growing conditions. Several row opener types are used depending on soil type and local tradition. Grain drills are most often drawn by tractors, but can also be pulled by horses. Pickup trucks are sometimes used, since little draft is required.

A seed rate of about 100 kg of seed per hectare (2 bushels per acre) is typical, though rates vary considerably depending on crop species, soil conditions, and farmer's preference. Excessive rates can cause the crop to lodge, while too thin a rate will result in poor utilisation of the land, competition with weeds and a reduction in the yield.

Among the major field crops, oats, wheat, and rye are sowed, grasses and legumes are seeded, and maize and soybeans are planted. In seeding, little if any soil is placed over the seeds. In planting, wider rows (generally 75 cm (30 in) or more) are used, and the intent is to have precise, even spacing between individual seeds in the row; various mechanisms have been devised to count out individual seeds at exact intervals.

Open-field refers to the form of sowing used historically in the agricultural context whereby fields are prepared generically and left open, as the name suggests, before being sown directly with seed. The seed is frequently left uncovered at the surface of the soil before germinating and therefore exposed to the prevailing climate and conditions. This is in contrast to the seedbed method used more commonly in domestic gardening or more specific (modern) agricultural scenarios where the seed is applied beneath the soil surface and monitored and manually tended frequently to ensure more successful growth rates and better yields.

Information about sowing[edit]

Generally, seed packets labels includes:

  • Common plant name and the botanical name (in parentheses).
  • Space and deep: how deep to place the seeds in the soil, space between plants (from one row to the other one and from one plant to the other one in the same row).
  • Height: approximate height the plant will reach when mature.
  • Soil: type of soil the plant prefers.
  • Water: It can indicate "keep the soil lightly damp", "bottom water the plant", "drench the soil with water", "daily misting of water" and "almost dry out before re-watering".
  • Sun: full direct sunlight, partial sun, diffused sunlight, or grows well in the shade.
  • Door and temperature: if the plant is best suited for growing Indoor, Outdoor or both.
  • Life: Perennial or annual.
  • Planting, germination and harvest period: a lot of plant are planted in March. This information can be indicated by months or quarters of the year.
  • Special requirements, if necessary.

This information can be represented graphically.