Make Your Own Dibbler – It’s a Dandy in the Garden

Friday, April 15, 2011

What the heck is a dibble?

I’m usually not much of a perfectionist because it tends to create a whole lot of extra work. I leave those little idiosyncrasies to people like my sister, who actually measures the position of her place settings when giving a dinner party. I do however; tend to be a bit more fastidious when it comes to gardening. I lean more towards formally laid out gardens with their clean lines and appealing symmetry. And, at times I find a gardening approach, or tool, that gives me the formality I like while decreasing my workload. Fabulous!

Case in point…The Dibble…a centuries old tool that creates holes in the soil for planting bulbs or seeds, like the one below.


Most dibbles however, make only one hole. I wanted something that would speed up the planting process and get me off my knees. I pondered and stared, stared and pondered, before coming up with a brilliant idea – a dibble that could plant many perfectly spaced seeds at one time (did I say I wasn’t a perfectionist?).

I fantasized about how beautiful my vegetable beds would be, so formal, so linear, so precise that the gardeners of Versailles would weep. And the best part of all…I’d save money on seeds because with the right spacing I wouldn’t need to thin!

So, I set out to create the ultimate dibble for my vegetable beds. Anytime I act on one of my “fantasies” the first thing I do is scour the garage and barn to see what I have on-hand that can be salvaged. The vision in my head called for a dibble that would fit in my raised beds (4’x8’), be easy to handle and allow me to plant my seeds successively for an ongoing crop.

The vision…a board with evenly spaced pegs.

I found a nice piece of ½-inch plywood, but wanted to keep it for another project. I found 2×6’s. No. 2×4’s. No. Smaller pieces of plywood. No, no, no. Then, buried beneath a pile of scrap 1×6’s I found what I was looking for, a 1×6 that was 24 inches long, half the width of my raised beds. Perfect! I brushed it off and sanded down the edges a bit till all was smooth and clean. Then I started marking a grid pattern along the ends and sides. Since most seed spacing is 2 inches my grid spacing would be 2 inches.


Some may think it may have been better to make a dibble that would cover a larger area, but such a contraption would be large, heavy and unwieldy. Nope this was the perfect size for my needs mainly because I often make successive plantings of certain crops and other times I plant many different varieties of the same crop in one bed. With a smaller dibble I would have more options on how to use it.

The process of making my dibble was fairly simple. After cleaning off my piece of wood I drew out the grid with intersecting points at 2 inch intervals.

Then I used my drill, to drill 1/2 inch holes completely through the board.

Next, I cut ½ inch diameter dowels into 2 ½ inch pieces (1 inch would be inserted into the dibble and 1 ½ inches would be left to press into the soil, making the planting holes.

When all the holes were drilled and all the dowels were cut, I dipped each dowel piece into wood glue and inserted them into the holes. The fit was tight so I used a rubber mallet to pound them in.

With all dowel pieces glued in place, I then attached a “D” ring to the backside of one end. It would act like a handle so I could lift the dibble from the soil, but also could be used to hang the dibble from my tool rack.
Viola!!! A multi planting dibble is born, one that could make planting holes for 48 seeds all at one time.

To use the dibble, rake and prepare your soil as smooth and level as possible.

Then press and slightly rock the dibble back and forth. Press firmly so all the dowels sink into the soil.

There you have it, beautifully spaced holes ready for planting. Ain’t it grand?


Plant one seed per hole, or, skip holes for seeds that call for larger spacing. It’s that easy.


Now – sit back and watch your seeds sprout in a beautiful symmetry of green.

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