Every year garden centers are flooded with seed mats and tapes. They tout the ease of planting and create success even for those with “brown thumbs.” No longer do gardeners have to worry about seed depth or correct spacing. Nor does the gardener have to worry about in depth soil preparation but all this convenience comes at a cost. While seed mats and tapes are great, they are limiting in the type of plant material that the gardener has to choose from and they are expensive. The solution to this dilemma is located no farther than the newsprint.
There are several schools of thought when it comes to materials needed to make seed tape. My personal feeling is to use what you have around the house or garden shed. Newspaper, coffee filters, toilet paper and even paper towels can be used as the base of the seed tape. Next gather your leftover seeds and any new seeds that you want to convert to a seed tape. Now invite your family and friends to a seed tape party.
Organize seeds that have similar growth requirements and plan out your seed tapes with this information. Seed tapes can be planted with one type of seed or a combination of seeds but this decision is all up to you the creator of your garden. Next, cut the newspaper or paper towels into 1-inch wide strips that are 12-inches long. If using white toilet paper this step is not needed but instead just roll out what you need in length.
Next, mark off the strips of paper according to the space requirements needed for the chosen plant. Mark each location where a seed will be placed with a marker and write the name of the seed on the end of the strip of paper. On the same end of the tape, also include the height and light requirements of the seeds on the strip.
Now make the glue that will be required to hold the seed in place. This consists of 1 teaspoon of flour to 1 to 2 teaspoons water. Once the glue has been made, place a dab of glue on each marked location. Using a paintbrush, touch the glue and then an individual seed. Place the glue with the seed onto the dab of glue on the strip of paper. Once the glue on the paintbrush touches the glue on the strip the seed will be released. Repeat this for all the remaining seeds. Once the strip is full, fold the strip in half and cover seeds. The strip will stick to itself with the glue. If this does not happen apply additional glue. Let seed tape dry completely before moving on and storing them away.
Toilet paper or paper towel seed strips can be rolled on their cardboard rolls and placed in plastic bags. If using newspaper, store away flat in plastic bags but remember to label all bags with date, plant names and growth requirements.
When it comes time to plant the seeds, simply remove them from their plastic bags and roll out onto the bare garden soil. Cover the seeds with the required amount of soil for the variety and water in by misting the seed tape until thoroughly moistened. Keep the seed tape evenly moist until the seeds germinate and the seedlings have had a chance to take hold.
When making and using your homemade seed tape follow the helpful hints. Check and double check the seed tapes before storing away. If they are still damp, the seed tapes will mold. A multi-seasonal tape can be planted by combining seeds that flower throughout the growing season. Another approach is to plant the seed tape with an assortment of vegetable plants and/or companion plants. This includes tomatoes and basil or lettuce and radishes. Just remember to use the correct spacing for each plant species. Do not limit yourself to a tape but instead consider making a seed mat. This consists of using a whole piece of newspaper and following the same process.
So this year get the whole family involved in making designer seed tapes and save money while creating family memories.