Seed tape is one of those things people have a strong opinion about. Either you love it and think it sounds very useful, or you think: Seriously? Seed tape?
I was one of the latter until recently when I realized how easily I could make my own seed tape, particularly for tiny, fiddly seeds. By making my own, not only would I be able to use the exact variety I wanted, but I wouldn’t feel like I was paying extra for something gimmicky. It will hopefully be a big help in terms of my thinning aversion.
I spent part of a morning cutting, “pasting,” folding, and rolling some customized seed tapes for the fall garden. And it was kind of nifty.
You can use any kind of paper that will biodegrade easily, tissue paper, toilet tissue, economy paper towels (the kind that’s supposed to scrub carpeting without falling apart probably isn’t the best!)
I used a fairly flimsy, two-ply TP.
After cutting the lengths I wanted, in this case four-footers to fit my raised beds, I folded the lengths up and cut them in half lengthwise with scissors.
Since I was using two-ply TP, I separated the plies and got four strips per length. Even better!
The next step was to lay the strips out and decide how far apart I wanted to space my seeds, in this case, carrots. I consulted the seed packets, one of which said one inch apart, another 3 inches. I split the difference and decided to space them at about two inch intervals. Then I needed some “glue.” There are many different choices here. The point is to make a paste from something non-toxic that will fix the seeds in one spot along the tape. Options include flour (wheat, rice, etc.), non-toxic school glue, cornstarch (aka cornflour), or methyl cellulose (an archival paper paste). Just add about equal parts dry ingredient and water and stir to remove the lumps.
I put my paste in a squeeze bottle, but you can also just use a small brush or stick to dip into the paste and apply to the paper in dots where you want to place the seeds. You can eyeball it or use a measuring stick to space the paste dots. I put the dots on one side of the strip to leave room for folding it over later.
Drop two or three seeds on each dot (in case some seeds refuse to germinate, you will have backups).
Once a strip is seeded, fold the strip over to secure.
Hang the strips over the shower curtain rod or a towel rod to dry as you don’t want the seeds to dry to your worktable.
After the strips are dry, roll up and store in a sealed container, labelled, until time to plant. Tuck the seed packet in there for future reference.
When you’re ready to put them out in the garden, lay the strips on the surface of the prepared garden bed, cover with the appropriate depth of soil as indicated by the seed packet, pat lightly, and water gently but thoroughly. Keep soil continually moist until seeds germinate.