Make Your Own Nifty Seed Tape

by Daisy

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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.



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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsay September 8, 2011 at 6:51 pm

What a great idea!

alisha September 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm

That is such a great idea. You could do that on a cold winter day and save time when it it time to plant. I like it!

Laura September 8, 2011 at 11:14 pm

That is brilliant!

Jessie September 9, 2011 at 8:32 am

That is a perfect January project for when I’m going gardening stir-crazy!

Sarah September 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Oh my! I must try this. I totally relate to your thinning aversion, and my hubby is even worse! This is something I can do in the long wait for spring (in Vermont) and still feel productive, and then my planting will go so fast! Thanks!

AuntiePatricia September 9, 2011 at 7:25 pm

ivory, you are the BEST! thank you for this wonderful idea.

Advocate Homes September 10, 2011 at 8:58 am

I love how you can do all this prep work indoors out of the sun…for me that is amazing news.

Lela September 10, 2011 at 9:40 am

I’ve used plain old masking tape for years…is that bad?

Tomato Lady September 10, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Lela–Sounds like an excellent idea—especially since it has done so well for you!

Viki September 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Lela-Did the masking tape decompose completely? Sounds way better than glue.

Victoria September 13, 2011 at 7:16 am

Thanks for the Step-by-Step!!

L.Bo Marie January 18, 2012 at 10:29 pm

I did this last year and loved it…. until a squirrel came and dug in the garden, pulling up the entire tape in three rows. grrrr.
now I use netting till the plants have germinated.

Tomato Lady January 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm

L.Bo Marie–Bad squirrel. Bad BAD squirrel.

Lela February 1, 2012 at 9:51 pm

The tape doesn’t, it’s the cheap,tan kind from the dollar store, however everything did sprout fine.

Cheryl March 5, 2012 at 10:54 am

Wow ! so easy.. not sure why I didn’t think of that.. Thanks

Jayna May 1, 2014 at 6:55 am

I read in one article you can also use honey in a bottle, actually the little bear bottles with the tip. Normally you can find this at the dollar store. That sounds so much easier than mixing up anything, and you get the same affect.

Janette January 28, 2016 at 1:18 pm

Going to have my Girl Scouts to do this for a community project. The local Boy Scout troop will prep soil!

Mattie March 27, 2016 at 2:44 pm

So glad I noticed and re-read this one. I had forgotten…now…I’m gonna be so ready to sow!

Alissa April 29, 2016 at 10:30 pm

also the day modpodge works great too…just non toxic glue and water, paint tissue paper strips, put seeds down, cover with another strip and modpodge together. Works neat too for a spring time card insert so others can plant flowers…can cut tissue into shapes!;) happy gardening!!!

Daisy May 1, 2016 at 8:41 am

Alissa–Cool idea, thank you!

Jen August 19, 2016 at 8:11 pm

This looks like a terrific method—thank you!

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:17 pm

Jen–It works!

Linde March 11, 2017 at 4:11 pm

My mom always plants radishes and carrots in the same row to give the carrots some protection when they’re tiny (it’s often windy here), so that’s what I do, too. Can I put carrots and radishes on the same tape?

Daisy March 13, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Linda–I don’t see why you couldn’t!

Ricardo March 19, 2017 at 5:10 am

This is ingenious!! There was a moment when we toy on coffee seeds for a huge area and thought this may be possible. Now its proven!!
I usually store seeds in a jar and place them under dry and cool conditions. I was wondering may be we could just wrap up the seeds as shown and store it in that form ready for immediate planting and maybe part of the sticky natural substance used as paste can be mixed with antibacterial ingredient also.
Thank you for this.

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