You can buy Seed Tape versions of seed from many on-line catalog seed retailers and I now see it offered in local home improvement stores in the seed section each spring. The advantage of Seed Tape is that small seed types such as carrot, spinach and radish are properly spaced to reduce or avoid the amount of thinning you have to do when planting these tiny seeds straight from a packet. The downside of this approach is the expense. So I learned to make my own seed tape.
I’ve found this is great late winter, bad weather day activity. I can start “planting” my garden by planting the seeds in my seed tape substrate: Toilet Paper. Yep, that’s right, I plant my seeds in biodegradable toilet paper. I don’t want the expensive, extra layer, fluffy, quilted stuff for this job. I want that really thin, scratchy kind you’d find in a port-a-potty. It breaks down faster and saves money.
Later, when it is time to plant, all I have to do is bury the seed tape per the package directions with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of fresh garden soil, water and wait for the perfectly spaced seedlings to emerge.
Seed Tape Supplies
- Any kind of small seeds
- Ziplock baggies or containers marked with type of seed tape to go in it.
- 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
- 1 Cup Cold Water
- Toilet paper – measured out in 2 foot lengths, very compostable type
- Any Squeeze type bottle (you can wash out and use an empty mustard or ketchup bottle or find one in the travel container isle)
- Funnel for pouring mixture into squeeze bottle.
- Food coloring (optional)
- Small plate
- Dissolve cornstarch in cold water and cook over medium heat until it boils and thickens. Mixture should look opaque and cling slightly to a fork before dripping off. This will be your “glue” for getting the seeds to stick to the toilet paper.
- Let it cool and add a couple drops of food coloring if using. Adding the food coloring is actually optional, but it will make your “glue dots” easier to see. Pick a color that makes you happy.
- Using the funnel, transfer your cornstarch glue to a squeeze bottle for easier application.
- Using a 2 foot length of toilet paper, squeeze dots of cornstarch glue on the lower half of the strip. Space the glue dots as directed on seed packet for planting spacing. This is where reduction of thinning after planning is achieved.
- Place a seed on top of each dot. Fold the toilet paper over and press seeds in. Let dry completely.
- Store in a plastic bag or container until you are ready to plant along with the seed packet for planting directions and easy identification.
Notes: I typically use a plate and toothpick to handle the tiny seeds.. I put some of the seeds on the plate, and then dip the toothpick in a bit of glue to pick up a seed and then transfer it to a glue dot. Has always worked for me, but if you have better ideas or suggestions, please let me know.