Dr. Nate says that in his golden age he could plant a 5-footer in 30 seconds. Being the ornery crew that we are, we challenged him to a speed planting competition. From that competition we brought away 7 tips on how to plant faster and more efficiently. Enjoy.
1 - Wear Gloves
Brand new towers can have sharp edges, and may cut workers if handled carelessly. Not only will gloves cut out the time that might be wasted washing and bandaging a cut, but you move faster when you're not trying to avoid getting scraped or cut up.
2 - Have everything ready to go
All you Type A folks are thinking, "Yes! It's my time to shine!" Whether you're preparation-minded or not, having towers, seedlings, media and wicking strips ready to go saves time. If all you have to do is turn and grab a tower, you can stay in the planting "zone", rather than having to switch gears to walk across your growing space to get towers every time you plant a new one.
Trust me, this works. And not just because I'm a type-A person.
3 - Build your workbench at the right height
Both the clock and your back will thank you for this one. It's amazing how much easier it is to pull a tower when you don't have to bend over to do it. One might even say it's fun.
4 - Make your workbench weighted.
A couple of sandbags or a floor anchor means that you can heave and pull on that pulling hook without your workbench sliding around. Usually, towers can be planted without pulling too hard, but it certainly will go faster will that extra oomph.
5 - Have a sturdy "hook" embedded in the table.
You can use a nail, a screw, or a custom welded hook on your table. This is where you hook the back hole of your tower to the table, allowing you to pull from the other direction. Whatever you use, make sure it's something pretty hefty. (Especially if you're like us and prefer to plant with gusto.) You don't want that thing coming out.
6 - Use PVC guides or rollers to grasp the media.
As you see in the video, Tyler is using PVC guides when he plants towers by himself. This allows him to plant the entire insert at once rather than going back and forth, and back and forth.
We've also used roller skate wheels on the table to let the media slide better. (This is my personal preference, but PVC works too.)
7 - Find your groove.
Some people plant faster by themselves. Others plant better with a partner. You can put the seedlings in before folding the media or before pulling the media. Try a bunch of different ways, time yourself, and then try to improve.
8 - (Bonus!) Motivate!
Have several different planters? Try a competition. We held a speed planting competition here at Bright a couple weeks ago whoever could plant three 7-foot towers (including wicking strips and brand new stiff media) the fastest won.
Think you can beat 30 seconds per tower?
Then go get your sweat band and put on some 80's workout music: it's planting time.
Like saving time? Then don't waste any more of it by using inefficient equipment on your farm!