There are many benefits of planting vegetables from seed. The selection of seed varieties is far greater than the variety of plants at the garden center; a packet of seeds is considerably less expensive than plants already started in pots; and it is very rewarding to care for vegetables from germination to harvest.
Some seeds are large and easy to plant. Beans and peas are even large enough for children’s fingers to manipulate. But some seeds are tiny. Carrots, onions and radishes are prime examples. These can be difficult to space properly when planting. As a result, many healthy seedlings growing too close together have to be pulled.
Seed tapes are a useful tool for tiny seeds. They are biodegradable papers with seeds embedded into them. Plant them and as the paper decomposes in the soil, seeds remain at the perfect spacing. Seed tapes are available at garden centers and box stores, but the varieties are limited and they are much more expensive than a packet of seeds.
Why not make your own? All you need is:
Sandwich bags or envelopes
Cut a piece of toilet paper to the desired length. I am going to plant these carrot seeds in an earth box so I cut mine 28 inches long. If you are planting a long row, divide the seed tape into two or three pieces so they are manageable.
Check the seed spacing on the seed packet – use the thinning spacing. My carrots are to be thinned to three inches so I spaced my seeds an inch apart. I will still have some thinning to do, but the germination rate of carrots can be erratic so planting extra for insurance is wise.
Using a ruler and pencil, mark the paper where seeds will be placed.
Sprinkle some seeds in a shallow container or on a piece of paper.
Combine flour and water to make a paste the consistency of white glue.
Using the paintbrush, put small dots of paste on the marks made on the paper. Do a small section at a time so the paste doesn’t start to dry before seeds are placed.
Place seeds on glue dots. If you have trouble using your fingers, a pair of tweezers may come in handy.
When all the seeds are placed, fold the back half of the paper over the front and press firmly. The dots of paste will glue the halves together. If the seed tape needs reinforcement, dot the edge with additional paste.
Let the seed tape dry completely before storing.
On a sandwich bag or envelope, write the name of the seed.
Fold up the seed tape when it’s dry. Long seed tapes can be wound around toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Keep seed tapes it in a cool, dry place until it’s time to plant.
On wintery days in February, use the time inside to make seed tapes. It will keep your green thumbs happy and save you time when spring finally arrives. Garden with me!