Precision Seeder for Mint-family Herbs?
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: John
Posted on: April 8, 2002

I would like to directly sow seeds (sage, thyme, oregano, bergamot) in rows covering an area of 5 acres. Do you sell or is there a product on the market for commercial growers that will work for me? I envisage something like a wheel-hoe with a seeder attachment, that you manually push on well prepared beds of fine tilth?

I would strongly recommend you NOT start your new fields of "mints" by seed. Typically, most mints, like Sage, Thyme, Oregano, and Bergamot are much slower growers than most annuals and grasses. Even row cropping these for early cultivation requires them to be started by plugs. Written in stone.

I have grown all of these crops in 40-acre (and less) stands since 1986, and NEVER had any success with direct seeding. The germination ratio alone presents serious consideration, to include getting the "mother bloc" started correctly.

My book Getting Started (www.herbfarminfo.com) shows how to do these kinds of crops with 100% success returns. I tried direct seeding techniques (with Catnip) back in 1978, and never had any field "take." Seed costs alone make this a questionable return (seed/acre rations), and simple row crop techniques are a requirement for any mint-type crops.

You can work your bedding plants from a French intensive (raised bed) format this spring, and then transplant them (with a Strawberry Planter) in the late summer. I would also recommend a cover or mulch over the new plants to help them winter over. Most begin their field crops in a nursery in early February, for a May planting.

Richters also sells plug plants for field production, at my recommendation. You will need 10,000 plants per acre, on a one-foot center. Cultivation needs to happen on twice during the first cutting. Once that has happened, even taproot type crops like Bergamot (also square-stemmed = mint), will broaden out to eliminate most annuals.

The cultivation equipment you have to use when needed determines the actual center width. How else can I help you with this project?

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