I’d never heard about “to sow” until recently, and I was quite surprised that I couldn’t find even a connotation about the difference in meaning from “to seed.”
The German word “säen” is translated with both “to seed” and “to sow”, neither of them are marked dialect or old-fashioned or anything.
Wiktionary defines them as:
- to seed: To plant or sow an area with seeds.
- to sow: To scatter, disperse, or plant (seeds).
As a non-native speaker, I fail to see the difference here (especially when one is defined using the other).
In this sense, can they be used interchangeably?
No, they can’t always be used interchangeably. To sow seeds is to put or spread them where you want them to grow, or you can speak of sowing a particular type of plant. You can seed a patch of ground (sow seeds on it), but ‘seed’ as a verb can also mean to produce seeds (of a plant), to remove the seeds from a fruit, as well as the various metaphorical uses mentioned by user067531.