seed planting stick

How to Make a Rewilding Wand

How to make a Seed Planting Walking Stick / Rewilding Wand.

My goal is to develop a simple, general-purpose seed planting walking stick / Rewilding Wand to use for planting different types of seeds. I am mainly testing it with tree seeds, but obviously it can work with other seeds types.

The stick is intended for people who need to put a considerable amount of seeds in the ground either as part of a re-forestation project, a small holding, or whatever.

The idea is to create a way of planting seeds:
+ That allows the person to do so at walking speed (even if it takes a bit of practise to get to that level).
+ That allows planting while remaining upright without having to stoop, or to bend down.
+ That is quick, cheap and easy to make using cheap and commonly available tools.
+ That works as a general purpose tool for various types of seeds.
+ That works with different types of soils.
+ That not only works on prepared ground, but that to some extent works on unprepared ground (i.e. forest areas that have been clear cut etc.)
+ That has a simple design which can act as a Proof of Concept which can then be customised when necessary to suit planting of specific types of seeds on specific types of ground.

Start of Seed Planting Stick

Seed Planting Stick: Story so Far…

After some research I decided to use a sturdy hollow tube walking stick as the basis of the seed planting stick. I wanted something which would not be hard to find and not be expensive and there seems to be a lot of variety of walking sticks which are hollow so this seems a good place to start. I chose one which does not fold (so would not have chord through the middle) and which has button height-adjust (so no complex mechanism which might be a struggle to remove).

The walking stick I used cost less than £10.00 including postage.


I made a few simple modifications to turn the walking stick in to a planting stick / Rewilding Wand:

++ Temporarily remove the inside tube from the walking stick by pressing the brass height-adjustment buttons all the way in and pulling the tube all the way out.

++ R emove the *rubber foot (or ferrule as it called) from the inside tube. It was a friction fit on this stick so a steady, firm pull with the hand removed it.

++ If you see a nylon fitting at the top end of the inside tube. Remove this as it is closed off at one end and will block the seeds from going through. This fitting is also just a friction fit so a steady firm pull with pair of flyers removes it.

++ Re-insert the inside tube back into the outer tube of the walking stick and locate the brass height adjustment buttons on the bottom set of holes (so the stick is at maximum length).

++ Use a hacksaw to cut away 1 inch (2.5 cm) from half the diameter of the bottom end of the inside tube. (The hacksaw I used cost £1 from a “pound” shop.) The offcut should be at the front of the stick so the blade which is formed by the piece left will be at the back. (The tube can be rotated 180 degrees on most sticks so its not usually a problem if you get it wrong).

Side view and end view of offcut from tube.

++ Hammer flat the end of the half-pipe section remaining on the inside tube so it forms a “blade”. You may want to file or sandpaper any rough edges and corners from the “blade” so you don’t risk cutting yourself in future. You may also want to round the edge of the blade (but don’t sharpen it much, or it might be classed as an offensive weapon if taken into a public area – as well as making it dangerous in use).

front and side view of “blade”

Hole drilled in front for seeds.

++ Drill a good sized hole in the front middle of the stick (i.e. opposite side of where the handle is sticking out). This is where the seeds go in. Drill it about 3.5 inches (9cm) from the top of the stick. (You can use the existing height-adjust holes to begin with to insert seeds, but they awkward to reach and to use because of their size and position).

Testing The Martin’s (Not) Patented Seed Planting Stick:

You are now ready for testing.

For right handed usage.
The idea is to insert the blade half way into the ground, turn the blade 90 degrees clockwise and insert a seed such that it hits the ground about the same time as the blade finishes moving. With practise it should be possible to get a fluid motion going so that planting the seed, flattening the resulting divet with the foot and carry on to the next one becomes a flow.

It definitely takes practise to get the hang of it, but initial tests were very promising. In fact the tests are so promising that I am offering the details right away without waiting to perfect the design or my planting technique – as I would like to spread the idea.

Email me your success stories or a link to a page and I’ll post about it: reg3 (at) iwp (dot) net

*You can use the rubber foot as a cover for the blade of the seed planting stick. Just squeeze the foot flat a bit as you put it on the stick so it will fit over the blade.

Internationally Published Author, Workshop Leader, Founder Global Forgiveness Initiative

Seed planting stick

Gary Kees, Project Leader
Brad Campbell, Project Assistant

S ingle-seed planters allow tree seeds to be planted where they’re most likely to thrive and at a depth that increases the likelihood of germination. Farmers and gardeners have used a variety of commercially available single-seed planters for planting seeds of many different plants, including corn, soybean, cucumber, sunflower, squash, rice, peanut, and cotton. Single-seed planters have been used to replant areas where seeds did not sprout, to fill between rows, or to plant areas where large machinery could not be used. A single-seed planter also may prove useful for selective seeding in riparian zones or areas damaged by fire.


  • Single-seed planters allow tree seeds to be planted where they’re most likely to thrive and at a depth that increases the likelihood of germination.

The Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC) tested the effectiveness of four single-seed planters.

  • Of the planters tested, the Hatfield Transplanter Model 1.5 and the Stand ‘n Plant were t he easiest to use, although both could be strengthened to hold up better in field use.
  • The Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC) purchased four commercially available planters to evaluate their effectiveness for planting tree seeds of varying sizes. We tested the planters in previously prepared seedbeds at the Forest Service’s Coeur d’Alene Nursery and at MTDC in an area closely mimicking a typical forest-floor environment. The tools tested (figure 1) were the:

    • Almaco Hand Jab Standard-Style Planter ($270)—designed for seeds
    • Seed Stick Planter ($99)—designed for seeds
    • Stand ‘n Plant Planter ($40)—designed for seeds, bulbs, and sprouts
    • Hatfield Transplanter Model 1.5 ($119)—designed for plugs, seeds, tubers, and bulbs

    Figure 1—Planters tested were, from left to
    right, Almaco Hand Jab, Seed Stick, Stand ‘n
    Plant, and Hatfield Transplanter.

    All of the planters except the Seed Stick have a hollow stem or tube with a simple bit to penetrate the soil. When these tools are pushed or jabbed into soil, the operator drops a seed into the hollow tube. The bit’s trapdoor design allows the seed to be deposited in the soil. The Stand ‘n Plant has a cord mounted near the top, which the operator squeezes to separate the bit and allow the seed to drop into the soil. The operator of the Hatfield Transplanter pulls the handles apart and stabs the ground (figure 2). The operator squeezes the planter’s handles together (figure 3) to open the bit, releasing the seed. The Almaco Hand Jab’s bit opens when the operator pushes the tool to the side (figure 4). Both the Hatfield Transplanter and the Almaco can be adjusted to plant seeds at different depths.

    Figure 2—The Hatfield Transplanter’s
    handles are open when the operator
    stabs the Hatfield Transplanter into
    the ground and steps on the foot plate.

    Figure 3—After the Hatfield
    Transplanter’s bit penetrates
    the soil, the operator drops
    a seed, plug, or bulb into
    the hollow tube, and squeezes
    the planter’s handles together,
    releasing the seed at the
    proper depth.

    Figure 4—The operator stabs the Almaco
    Hand Jab into the ground and drops
    a seed into the hollow tube. To release
    the seed, the operator pushes the
    Almaco to the side on its “foot,”
    opening the bit.

    The Seed Stick (figure 5) mounts on a long push broom-style handle with a seed hopper near the ground. A spring-mounted ram removes a seed from the hopper and drops it into the hollow tube. Another spring-operated ram pushes the seed to the proper depth as the operator pushes the tool into the ground. The planter came with three rams to accommodate different sizes of seed. MTDC fabricated a fourth ram to handle the tiny seeds of Douglas-fir trees (figure 6).

    Figure 5—As the Seed Stick is pushed
    into the soil, a ram is pushed into the
    seed hopper, lifting a seed and dropping
    it into the hollow tube. When the operator
    makes a final push, the seed goes through
    the bit and into the soil.

    Figure 6—Different sizes of rams used for the Seed Stick.
    Each ram has a divot cut at its top to accommodate the
    seed. The ram must be changed for seeds of different sizes.
    The ram on the left was fabricated by the MTDC machine
    shop to accommodate tiny Douglas-fir seeds.

    We evaluated all four planters at the Coeur d’Alene nursery and at MTDC using whitebark pine, lodgepole pine, and Douglas-fir seeds.

    It’s easier to plant seeds in raised nursery beds than in most field settings. The Almaco Hand Jab, Stand ‘n Plant, and Hatfield Transplanter placed seeds at the desired depth, up to 2 inches deep, in nursery beds. When the Seed Stick was used, the planting depth was inconsistent, and it was difficult to determine whether a seed had actually been placed in the soil.

    A pine grove at MTDC provided a more realistic setting for testing the planters (figure 7). For all of the planters except the Seed Stick, seed size did not matter. Seed size was a factor for the Seed Stick because the ram that picks seed from the hopper and places it in the soil must be closely matched to the seed size.

    Figure 7—The Hatfield Transplanter was
    tested in a pine grove at MTDC.

    We scraped the ground with our boots, removing loose organic matter, before we tested the planters. When we used a strong jab to push the Almaco Hand Jab, Stand ‘n Plant, and Hatfield Transplanter planters into the soil, the planters’ bits were at the proper depth for planting. The seed was dropped by hand down the tube and the seeder was lifted from the soil following the manufacturer’s instructions. All of these planters left a divot with the seed easily seen in the ground (figure 8). Soil displaced by the planter was brushed over the seed and tamped by foot, minimizing the air space around the seed.

    Figure 8—Whitebark pine seeds were painted
    red so they could be seen during testing.
    The seeds are shown in a hole made by
    the Almaco Hand Jab.

    The Almaco Hand Jab, Stand ‘n Plant, and Hatfield Transplanter hollow-tube planters worked best, planting seed at the desired depth. The Stand ‘n Plant was easy to use and provided consistent results. Durability may be an issue with this planter, and it can be difficult to plant the seeds deep enough. The planter’s durability could be improved by fabricating a metal bit and strengthening the bit’s release mechanism.

    The Almaco Hand Jab and Hatfield Transplanter can be used to plant small seedlings as well as seeds, although we did not plant any seedlings during these tests. The Hatfield Transplanter was the easiest planter to use, and the handle height and seed depth could be adjusted easily. The Hatfield Transplanter’s durability could be improved by strengthening its bit and footplate.

    Seedburo Equipment Co.
    (Almaco Hand Jab Standard-Style Planter)
    2293 South Mt. Prospect Rd.
    Des Plaines, IL 60018
    Web site:
    Phone: 800–284–5779
    Fax: 312–738–5329

    Stand ‘n Plant
    (Stand ‘n Plant Planter)
    95 Rose Rd.
    Saltsburg, PA 15681
    Web site:
    Phone: 724–349–5167

    Johnny’s Selected Seeds
    (Hatfield Transplanter Model 1.5 and Seed Stick Planter)
    955 Benton Ave.
    Winslow, ME 04901
    Web site:
    Phone: 877–564–6697
    Fax: 800–738–6314

    About the Authors

    Gary Kees joined MTDC in 2002 as a project leader. He works in the reforestation and nursery, forest health, facilities, fire, and GPS programs. His current projects involve ATV and backpack sprayers, nursery equipment, fuel cans, and air quality. Kees, who has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Idaho, worked for 10 years as a mechanical and structural engineer, project manager, and engineering group leader for Monsanto Co. in Soda Springs, ID.

    Brad Campbell worked at MTDC on a detail as part of the Federal Executive Leadership Program. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Western Washington University and a master’s degree in geological engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno. Campbell worked in State and private industry for 10 years before joining the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation.

    For additional information about single-seed direct planters, contact MTDC:

    Phone: 406–329–3900
    Fax: 406–329–3719

    Electronic copies of MTDCs documents are available on the Internet at:

    Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management employees can search a more complete collection of MTDC’s documents, CDs, DVDs, and videos on their internal computer networks at:

    Seed planting stick Gary Kees, Project Leader Brad Campbell, Project Assistant S ingle-seed planters allow tree seeds to be planted where they’re most likely to thrive and at a depth that