Have you ever tried to direct seed by hand, carrots or basil or even worse lettuce? It’s mind boggling and incredibly difficult if you are looking for precision.

Here at Sunshine Care, A Community of Assisted Living Homes in Poway CA, all of our five organic gardens are seeded by children, special needs groups and residents, all with memory care issues such as Alzheimers and dementia. Manual dexterity is not a touted trait.

We have a beautiful, top- of- the line greenhouse that can handle seedling trays for all of our crops that will eventually yield over 20,000 lbs of fresh organic fruits and vegetables for our residents and families in need in the area. Most crops are easy to seed such as squash, cucumbers and melons. Even peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower are relatively easy to sow but lettuce and basil are a challenge to say the least. We strive for one seed per cavity in each tray, for uniform growth and vigor.

In our Children’s Garden, where local homeschooled kids and preschoolers learn the art of gardening, we also direct seed some rows with carrots, beets and lettuce. Some carrot and lettuce seed varieties may contain from 20,000-30,000 seeds per ounce. It’s like working with dust. The worst part is when it comes time to “thin” the seed lines for uniformity of growth. Clumps of seeds may have germinated and when thinning them to the proper distance to avoid overcrowding and small misshaped carrots or beets, it’s time-consuming and frustrating.

Direct seeding of corn, peas, beans are no problem due to their workable seed size. Plop those seeds in the ground, one by one at a set distance and they are off.

If there was only a way to handle each seed easily for precise germination.

There is!!!   PELLETED SEEDS


We purchase most of our seed from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Many of their lettuce, carrot, beet, basil, parsley, onion, chicory, parsnip and celery seeds can be obtained in pelletized form where each seed is enclosed in a clay-based round pellet. The material is inert and NOP compliant. They reduce time- consuming thinning and non-uniform stands in the garden. Each seed can be handled individually and properly placed in a tray or in the ground.


For commercial growers, pelleted seed is less likely to become jammed or stuck in mechanical planters because of the uniform size and shape of the pellets. This allows growers to accurately and efficiently plant direct-seeded crops, leading to less labor costs by eliminating or reducing the task of thinning with less seed waste.

One thing to know about pelleted seeds is that the process also shortens the shelf life of the seed. Normal seeds can easily be stored for three years. Pelleted seeds are recommended to be used within a year of purchase. All seeds should be stored until ready to plant, protected from heat and humidity in a cool, dark, dry place.


A packet of 250 pelleted carrot or lettuce seeds will cost you less than $5. That’s 2 cents a head of lettuce. Pretty darn cheap!

For those of you that like to seed your own flowers, JSS offers a variety to choose from as well. Matricaria, Digitalis, Dianthus and Lisianthus can be purchased in pellet form.

So, to eliminate the hassles associated with direct seeding in the garden or seeding for transplants in trays, try using pelleted seeds. The results are fantastic!

For anyone that wishes to tour our gardens and greenhouse here at Sunshine Care, A Community of Assisted Living Homes in Poway CA, feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email.

Roy Wilburn, Horticulture Manager- (858)472-6059 or

Better yet- please attend our free monthly garden lecture series on the third Saturday of the month at 10:30. Great speakers, refreshments, door prizes and a tour following the talk are all part of the show.

Check our website for details,

Happy Gardening!

Categories: Horticulture

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