Seed tape is great for a number of reasons:
Easy way to plant seeds quickly
Precise planting of rows, or in small spaces (like containers) where each inch is premium real estate
No wasting of seeds
No thinning (or at least greatly reduced) which is less traumatic to the soil and seedlings, and less wear-and-tear on the gardener
And the reasons you would want to make your own are:
- Much cheaper than pre-made tape
- You can make it with any seeds you want (pre-made has very limited selection)
- One packet of seeds can be made into a bunch of tape to be shared with fellow gardeners (after all, who needs 180 bunches of cilantro?!)
- Great project to do with your kids to introduce them to gardening
While it may seem tedious and time-consuming to make the seed tape, it is much less so than thinning, and you can do it sitting down in an air-conditioned house instead of stooping over in the heat. And it's so easy, a 5 year old can do it!
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
All you need are:
- good, thick paper towels or toilet paper
- Elmer's school glue
- pen or marker to label with
Step 2: For Medium to Large Seeds
For these cucumber seeds, take a strip of 3 to 5 squares of toilet paper and fold in half lengthwise. You can use a longer strip, but it can be harder to handle, and there's no advantage to having one strip of 9 seeds vs three strips of 3 seeds each.
Draw a circle with the glue. You don't have to draw in with pen first; I only did it to show my little helper where the glue needs to go. Make sure there's no gap in the circles so your seed doesn't fall out.
Place your seeds in the circles.
Fold paper over and pat down to enclose seeds. Label immediately because it can get confusing if you're doing a bunch of different seeds at once.
Move strip somewhere safe from strong wind and teething babies to dry, or at least lift the whole strip away so it doesn't stay glued onto your working surface. Because that didn't happen to us while we were making this Instructable, noo!
Step 3: For Smaller Seeds (cilantro or Radishes)
For smaller seeds, it would be too tedious to glue around each seed, so instead, we glued them ON!
Dot your paper with glue, and place seeds.
Cover with another strip of paper and pat each seed to glue the layers together.
Remove to drying area as with the other. Don't forget to label!
(You can also do the fold-in-half method like the cucumber seeds if you'd rather have a skinny strip)
Step 4: For Itty Bitty Seeds (lettuce or Carrots)
For itty bitty seeds like lettuce and carrots, it would be too tedious to glue each one ON, so we sprinkle instead.
Draw some squiggles with the glue. Again, I only drew with pen first so my helper can see.
Spread the glue out with your fingers to fill the area of dotted lines, or get your mom to do it because the glue is "too icky sticky"...
Sprinkle your seeds on.
Cover with another strip, pat, and dry like usual. Label. (sorry, I'm a lab rat and we live and die over labeling)
*The sprinkling of seed should be much sparser than what I have here, but my helper was having so much fun with the sprinkling... Plus you can see our little mishap from opening the package, so might as well use them up!
Step 5: Ta-da!! Completed Seed Tape to Be Planted or Shared!
After an hour or 2 of drying time, store your seed tape in airtight plastic bags to be planted at a later date, or shared with fellow gardeners!
(if desired, they can be planted immediately without drying time)
When ready to use, lay your seed tape on prepared ground, cover with soil or mulch, water in, and enjoy no-thinning, perfectly spaced seedlings!
I make these exclusively to give away to friends, because if I were planting them, I would soak them first, using this method:
Recipients of this seed tape can also "soak" the whole strip before planting, using the method above to speed up germination. The glue will dissolve and have no impact on the germination or seedlings. But this is why you want to use the good thick toilet paper, not the gas-station-bathroom kind! :)
Hope these instructions were clear and helpful. Happy growing!