The Rolling Dibbler - Paul Betz
High Ledge Farm we are growing for a large market and a 25 member CSA.
To get the consistency we want week after week, we are transplanting all
the time. Having worked on farms that were using water wheels or
mechanical transplanters, the benefits of consistently spaced plants are
apparent: easier cultivation, improved airflow around the plants,
reduced disease pressure, and knowing an accurate number of plants you
will use to fill a row. The problem we have at High Ledge Farm is a
tractor mounted transplanter is not only too big for our farm, it also
requires more people than are available most of the time. Enter….the
rolling dibbler, a hand held plant and row marker.
first learned about this tool from the Healthy Farmer, Healthy Profits
program from the University Of Wisconsin. You can do a search and find
them online. Although the design is good, theirs uses PVC, and is pretty
expensive to build. I made ours in about 30 minutes using $15 in
materials. It paid for itself almost immediately. I used rot resistant
white cedar, because it often gets left outside. I have different drums
that give me various spacing options.
My Allium drum is based on an 8” row spacing, but the
one I use most often is calibrated to give me a 16” row spacing. The
drums are 12 sided, and the slats are approximately 2” wide. The plant
markers are made with a piece of 2x4 that I milled down to be 1˝” square
and 2” long. The handle and axle are
out of a piece of ˝” conduit. I used a pipe bender for this most recent
project, but in the past I just bent it free hand. The bends on the top
of the handle help with pulling the roller down the row. At this point,
the axle connects with an elbow, but I am working on a better system.
My plan is to flatten the end of the handle and drill a hole to slip the
axle through. Then I can use lynch pins to secure it. This will allow a
quicker, no tool change between drums, and a much more reliable
I can’t imagine farming without this tool. It has given
me a precision I couldn’t get with guessing at spacing, and allowed me
to increase the efficiency of planning and planting all of my