If you haven’t made seed tapes before, then you’re in for a treat. These are a great way to handle small seeds that require even spacing. It also helps you to plant without wasting a lot of seeds or having to fumble with seed packets while outside in the breeze. Homemade seed tapes are also a fun project to get youngsters involved in gardening, or to give as a gift to a favorite gardener. They’re easy to make on your own and require only very basic tools to put together.
Common Vegetable Seeds for Seed Tape
Seeds used in seed tape are usually the very small varieties. Seeds like carrot, lettuce, and radish are common choices. Just about any seed can be put onto a seed tape, however, so if you wish to make one with larger seeds, there’s no stopping you!
For experienced gardeners, though, seed tapes are best used with seeds that would otherwise either be broadcast sewn or painstakingly planted in tiny groups. Seed tape can be made in the very early spring before any real gardening efforts have begun and then used when the weather is cooperative.
Making Your Own Seed Tape
Seed tape is an excellent DIY job for children or adults during the gardening off-season. In the eary spring or late winter, they can be made and set aside for later use. All you need are some scissors, paper (newspaper, paper towels or any other thin paper — just avoid colored ink or glossy paper), some flour or corn starch, a small paintbrush or Q-Tips, and some seeds.
To make your seed tape, simply cut the paper into strips about half an inch wide. The measurement doesn’t need to be exact, just wide enough to easily work with. The longer the strips, the easier it will be to space your seeds correctly. You can cut them to length later if needed.
Using a ruler and pencil, mark the proper spacing for your seeds of choice on the strips. Label each strip at one end with the type of seeds to be put on it. Set these aside.
Using flour and water, mix small amounts (about 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon of water to start) in a small bowl. Add flour or water until the mixture is a thick paste. When it will easily stick to a small paintbrush or Q-Tip, it’s ready.
If using corn starch, heat 1/3 cup of water to boiling, then add 1/3 cup of corn starch. Mix while boiling until thoroughly combined, then simmer until it thickens to the consistency of glue – when you can draw a fork through it and the marks take a moment to disappear, it’s ready. Remove from heat and stir until cooled (2-3 minutes).
Using the paint brush or Q-Tip, place a small drop of glue on each spot you marked on the paper (or two) and place seeds in those positions. For very small seed types, such as lettuce or radishes, 2-3 seeds in each position is best. For larger seeds, one at a time is probably enough. With two people, this is easy — one dabs the glue while the other places the seeds.
Once done, leave the seed tape out to dry, either in a window with sun or in a warm, dry place. The faster it dries, the better, since you don’t want the wet glue to trigger germination (it shouldn’t be wet long enough for this, but better safe than sorry). When dry, roll them up and store them in plastic bags, along with the seed packet, until it is time to plant.
Now your tape is ready to use!
How To Use Seed Tape
Use your seed tape in long flower boxes, raised beds, or right in the garden. All that you have to do is dig a trench the recommended depth for that seed, lay the tape down, cover with soil and water gently. The paper biodegrades into the soil as the seeds germinate and grow. No mess, no worries.
More Seed Tape Online Resources: