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Picture of Make Your Own Seed Tapes
Seed Tapes are an efficient work saver in the garden but they get so expensive sometimes that I have taken to making my own to save money too.

This is a fun project for the whole family to get in on, when my kids were too young to handle garden tools they had fun making them and it made them feel that they were an important part of things around the house.

I also like to do these at my leisure over the winter months to get ready for spring and summer plantings and get a jump on the growing season..

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You will need:

Any kind of Seeds
Zip lock Baggies or plastic containers - each one marked for what type of seed tape it is in it
1 Tbl Corn Starch
1 C Cold Water
Paper Towels, cut in 1 1/2 - 2 inch Strips and folded in half
Any squeeze type bottle, (you can wash and use an empty mustard or ketchup bottle)
A drop of food coloring (optional)
 
Hi,

How much ahead of time can I make the Seed Glue? Thanks!

ClareBS5 years ago
Last night I made some seed tape. This morning I looked on Instructables to see if one had been posted and found your excellent Instructable. I used four squares of toilet paper, folded it up the long way until I could cut it in half easily to make two long strips. Because my husband is on a gluten free diet and we don't have any wheat flour in the house I made paste out of rice flour. I think any flour or starch powder would work. I love the idea of cornstarch in a squeeze bottle. How long does the cornstarch liquid keep? I put dots on the toilet paper with a toothpick and with the wet end of the toothpick pick up a seed. Wet on wet sort of works like a magnet, the seed lets go when it hits the paste on the paper. After making a whole strip I fold the paper in half and press down to hold the seeds in place then roll up loosely. I think the seed tape works best for small seeds like carrot and radish which are planted fairly close together. It is easy just to plant the strip and not worry about thinning seedlings. Almost every one germinates.
greenpixi5 years ago
This is awesome. Once I have a space to really garden, I'm definitely going to use an idea like this.
satchid6 years ago
Hi, wonderful idea, I am square foot gardening (www.squarefootgardening.com) and I needed a system like this urgently. I will use serviettes of about 1 foot square, the put the dots on it as required for that particular plant and then put another serviette on top. This than will be folded in 4 after drying and kept in a dry place till needed. Great idea.
Deewheat6 years ago
Excellent idea!
sonipitts6 years ago
I did this one year with carrot seeds, mainly because the little buggers are a bear to plant by hand. I used Elmers (which is non-toxic and bio-degradable) and they came up beautifully. I'll have to try the cornstarch glue next time.
DebH57 (author)  sonipitts6 years ago
What a great idea, I would have never thought of Elmers glue, I will have to try your method too. Thanks!
kimndaisy6 years ago
Very cool~ you got my vote
hsmomof26 years ago
This is so neat! I would never have thought to do something like this.
DebH57 (author)  hsmomof26 years ago
You might want to try it with your kids Hsmom it's a fun project
Claude36 years ago
HI...I saw an idea like this but they used 2" strips of toilet paper that was folded into 1" strips. I thought it was a good idea but did not use it until I started planting CARROT seed and then wished that I had. You say you keep finished strips in the fridge. Some seed needs to be soaked overnight before planting. I wonder if using this cornstarch glue would soften the hull of the seed..and so start the decomposition of the hull...what do you think?
DebH57 (author)  Claude36 years ago
Since the cornstarch is mixed with water it is highly possible Claude but I couldn't say for sure because you only use drops and it dries fairly fast. I think it would be a try it and see type thing.
im4tooele6 years ago
I could probably do that.
DebH57 (author)  im4tooele6 years ago
It's pretty easy Im4 you should give it a shot
chauntee26 years ago
I want to get the kids into plantin;)
DebH57 (author)  chauntee26 years ago
It's a good way to get them going Chauntee
Donaldhrtc6 years ago
Thanks for the idea
DebH57 (author)  Donaldhrtc6 years ago
You are welcome thanks for the coment
juvinurse6 years ago
WOW...this is a wonderful and easy idea!
DebH57 (author)  juvinurse6 years ago
Yes and the kids have fun doing it too. Thanks for commenting.
GloriaJ6 years ago
I made a few of these for friends to include in a birthday card. Gret idea.
DebH57 (author)  GloriaJ6 years ago
Thanks Gloria!
JohnMac6 years ago
Best of luck!
jakezcop6 years ago
this is really cool, ive also seen where people make home made paper, and they put plant seeds into that too, then they just cut up the paper and plant it :D
DebH57 (author)  jakezcop6 years ago
Yes Jake I did an Instructable on that subject too:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Paper-That-Grows-Recycle-Renew-and-Plant--1/

Thanks for commenting.
jakezcop DebH576 years ago
ha ha oh sorry, i didnt really look around, it was just on the top of my head :D
DebH57 (author)  jakezcop6 years ago
LOL NP Jake, great minds think alike.
jakezcop DebH576 years ago
ha ha i guess they do! meh names not jake either lol :P
DebH57 (author)  jakezcop6 years ago
LOL ok what is it?
jakezcop DebH576 years ago
heh my names Adam, jakezcop's my last name backwards :D
DebH57 (author)  jakezcop6 years ago
LOL ok now how do you pronounce it?
jakezcop DebH576 years ago
its pronounced poe-check-eye :D its actually polish and it means to wait :P dunno how we got it! lol
DebH57 (author)  jakezcop6 years ago
So then does that mean you are a patient person?
jakezcop DebH576 years ago
surprisingly for a 14 year old yes im very patient lol.
DebH57 (author)  jakezcop6 years ago
LOL Adam, you are mature beyond your years, nixw to know you!
jakezcop DebH576 years ago
HAHA i dont know if MATURE is quite the right word :D
JohnMac6 years ago
Very clever idea.
DebH57 (author)  JohnMac6 years ago
Thanks John
sugarego6 years ago
hi there. the idea certainly seems cool as a way to kill time when it's rainy, or involve your kids in a crafty endeavor. but even after reading through all the comments, including the one by dmcunningham, i still don't really understand how this would save time. it seems more laborious to have to dig a hole and then make sure the whole paper towel is underneath soil (and it seems too easy to plant them too deep) rather than either (a) sprinkle seeds on bare soil and then sprinkle a quarter inch of soil (or however much is needed) to cover them, or (b) just wet your index finger, stick a seed to it, then push the seed down into the soil. but truthfully, i've had way more luck with seeds growing when i sprinkled them on top of the soil and left them uncovered. they seem to work their way down into soil on their own when water is applied, whereas when i try to put them down the correct depth, many of them end up too deep to germinate. maybe we are just planting different types of plants, or maybe i just need a bit more gardening experience. okay, sidetracked a bit, but... i think it's awesome you make your own strips, rather than paying the high cost they charge for the pre-made strips, that's for sure. i guess i'm just not seeing why the strips were even invented in the first place.
DebH57 (author)  sugarego6 years ago
If your seed packet instructions call for spreading them on the ground and just covering them up thats all you need to do - there would be no need to dig a hole. As for wetting my finger and pushing the seed in the soil that would do for the first seed but I wouldn't want to put my finger back in my mouth after that. If you have ever planted a large area then you know how it affects your back when doing it all by hand and the more your back aches the more it slows you down, for me and my back it's a great time saver. If you haven't planted a large area then it is kind of hard to relate to - unless you have experienced labor pains in your back - it feels about the same. I would love to be able to use your method of just sprinkling them and leave them uncovered, OMG that would be so easy if it weren't for the birds who come to steal anything they think might grow in my yard lol. I appreciate your insight and comments, thanks.
AvAngel6 years ago
Looks easy enough, I will try it.
easy enough how hard does it have to be for u not to do it lol????
It never ceases to amaze me how people who possess a total lack of reading comprehension skills will strive to further to prove their ignorance by asking questions of the obvious that was already answered had they bothered to actually read the whole thing and then remove all doubt about their intelligence by posting a snide comment and think its funny.
will u get the seed out when u need it or will u have the paper brack down as compost?
DebH57 (author)  james.mcglashan6 years ago
You plant it paper towel and all James.
LazyDaisy6 years ago
This seems pretty interesting to me, I'm all for saving time and backaches. Is there a limit to how large of an area you can cover with these?
DebH57 (author)  LazyDaisy6 years ago
No Daisy you can use as many or few of them as you need.
Bratillia6 years ago
Great idea DebH
DebH57 (author)  Bratillia6 years ago
Thanks Bratty
anngel3696 years ago
i'm goin to try this out! thanks
DebH57 (author)  anngel3696 years ago
You are welcome Anngel
aunty6 years ago
We did something similar in my younger days but we used catalog pages.
DebH57 (author)  aunty6 years ago
Thanks for your comment Aunty
static6 years ago
I don't know this looks like it would be as tedious as planting the seed the old fashion way, I guess if the tedium was spread across the Winter, it would be worth a try. BTW on the slick shiny paper, I had always thought it was some sort of clay coating that may get in the way of commercial recycling, but not really harmful. A clear easy to understand instructable
DebH57 (author)  static6 years ago
It can get tedious if you are doing 1000's of them all at once and by yourself, thats why you involve the family and do some here and there. When my kids were little they would by their own seeds to make tapes with because for them it was great fun - but then I would buy them an expensive toy and they had more fun with the box it came in. Thanks for commenting Static.
oldwolves6 years ago
Would you think it would be possible to add some organic fertilizer into the mix? Thereby getting an extra boost.
I was thinking the same thing. I wonder if you used the extra thick towels and brushed some fertilizer (worm tea) onto the paper then let it dry. Then the glue.
Yes, Even if it's dry pellets atop ,on another layer, so when planted the water then drips down with fertilizer already set .
DebH57 (author)  oldwolves6 years ago
I think you are both right M3harri and Old Wolves I don't see why you couldn't do this.
hobbygirl456 years ago
I am very new to gardening, but will definitely try this. It will make planting quicker and that is good when you live in GA and the temp is 90+. I have a question...do I just dig a small trench and lay the paper towels with the seeds in the dirt and water? Thanks for sharing this project.
DebH57 (author)  hobbygirl456 years ago
Yup thats pretty much it, just be sure your trench is to the specifications of planting depth, toss in your tape, coverwith dirt and water it.
sismart6 years ago
What an idea! I'm assuming the paper towels dissolve, leaving just planted seeds ready to grow. I like it! Does it matter if they are folded in half? Does this work fine with veggies and fruits, including spacing (would you just cut them into squares for things like zucchini, etc.)? The 'glue' doesn't mess with the growability of the seeds, does it? How far in advance can one do this with (like, 'now' for next year's season, or is that too soon)? Thanks for posting this project!
DebH57 (author)  sismart6 years ago
Yes the paper towels break down fairly fast. I think folding it in half could be a matter of choice but with the paper towel folded your seed is enclosed whereas if it isn't the seeds could fall off and be lost or start growing where you don't want them. Unless my seeds are large, say twice larger than a watermelon seed or a pit type seeds I space them and plant the whole length of strip without tearing them. The 'glue' being cornstarch and water sort of cocoons the seed, once you water your planting it just dissolves away, it won't harm the growth. I've already started some of next years seeds. The Lawn and Garden Shop starts putting some of their seed on clearance because it is past the time for planting some things here. I pick them up for as little as five to ten cents a packet and when I am bored, having one of those insomnia nights or am stuck inside because of weather I pass the time making more seed tapes and toss them in a bottom drawer in the fridge (which is also a great place to keep your bulbs) designated for that use only.
It seems like this would be a good way to store seeds too. I wonder if you could increase the size of the dot and use a few seeds, cut them into pieces and just drop along your hoed rows. It seems like it would make things easier and you wouldn't have to worry about seeds scattering; I think the cornstarch would give a little weight so dropping them right where you wanted them would be easier. Does that make any sense? Regardless, great instructable!
DebH57 (author)  chinasmom20006 years ago
Sure you can do it that way but if you space the dots according to the planting instructions you wouldn't have to bother with cutting them apart, just drop them in rows. Thanks!
I was thinking of seeds that need to be planted farther apart than the length of a paper towel. : )
DebH57 (author)  chinasmom20006 years ago
Yes it would work for you, I didn't think on the larger spacing vs paper towel scale.
lizzie_bug6 years ago
I love this idea! I wonder if newsprint would work as well as paper towels?
My Grandma used to spread seeds from a tomato over newsprint, allow to dry, and then cut the newspaper into strips.
DebH57 (author)  lizzie_bug6 years ago
I don't see why not since most newsprint is soy based. I would however avoid any paper with even a hint of shine as it indicates a varnish had been applied to it.
cprocjr6 years ago
Do you just plan that in the ground?
DebH57 (author)  cprocjr6 years ago
Yes, make a space as deep as the seed packet instructs lay it in there and cover it with dirt. The paper towel will disintegrate quickly with watering.
I live in a city apartment but plan to have a house one day (with a garden!) so this stuff interests me. But I don't get how it would save time when planting... Seems it would be quicker to just open the seed packet and spread the seeds, no?
It depends on one's idea of quicker. With the prepping done with the seeds, when it comes time to plant the only thing one has to do is to dig the right amount of depth for the seeds and put the paper strip in. If you want the whole length of the strip to be that one plant, great - just put the whole strip in. If you want only three plant groups, tear off three dots and put them in. If you only want one plant, just tear off one dot (the food coloring makes it easy to see the dots). Now the prep time may seem to be too much for some people, and for them, yes, just opening the seed packet and spread the seeds would be quicker for them. It all depends on one's needs and what works best for them. For me, I get to involve my children (bonus) ahead of time and it's easy enough for them to dig a shallow hole and place the paper in and cover - so for me that's WAY easier and quicker. Also, when it's just me planting, I'm able to zip right along and get things done. So, I say again, it really depends on the person and what their needs and wants are.
DebH57 (author)  dmcunningham6 years ago
Thanks for the great explination and comment DM!
Thank you for the great instructable!
jbm DebH576 years ago
Also, I can't tell you how many times seeds have been dropped in the garden by my kids. Once you get some carrot or spinach seeds dropped on soil, they are so small and camouflaged, good luck gathering them back up. This technique would really help save on seeds as well, and they are getting expensive! p.s.: It's not just the kids who drop seeds outside.
DebH57 (author)  jbm6 years ago
I know that, I dropped a whole packet of mixed salad green seeds once, what a mess I had trying to separate them. Thanks for commenting JBM
DebH57 (author)  merideathx6 years ago
I think DMCunningham has your answer for you. Also with the seeds already spread out in the towel you don't have to go through the process of thinning them out when they sprout. If you do have kids then you know how hard it can be to occupy their time when they are stuck indoors because of weather and such, it's a plus for any parent.
valamas cprocjr6 years ago
yep, tear off a strip, plant in the ground. The paper will not impede, it will soften and become soil. It could even help retain moisture in the early germination phase.
Has anyone sprouted these yet? I am curious about the cornstarch. I use an organic weed inhibiter & it is made of corn gluten. It acts by smothering sprouting weeds & says to only use around established plants. Do you think there's any chance of the cornstarch doing the same thing? If not, I am ready to run with this idea! Look-out radishes & carrots! Thanks!! I had just wondered about this last time I checked the prices on carrot seed strips.
what a nifty idea! Thanks very much. much better doing this than losing seeds in useless packages! :)
DebH57 (author)  Sc00terpagan6 years ago
Ain't that the truth! Thanks for comenting Scooter
DebH57 (author)  gardensquare6 years ago
I have sprouted them every year since I was a kid in my fathers garden and never had a problem. Also consider the fact you are using a DROP and not covering your entire garden in it.
corn starch and corn gluten are both byproducts of processing corn. gluten is the protein of the corn, and organisms tend to be able to feed of starches much easier than proteins, so I doubt it would have the same effect, in fact it might have the opposite effect.
DebH57 (author)  chrwei6 years ago
Great explination, thanks Chrwel
Thanks!
Arsonista6 years ago
Easy! And as you mentioned, a great way to involve kids. Thanks for this project.
DebH57 (author)  Arsonista6 years ago
You are more than welcome, thanks for your comment.
CAWildWoman6 years ago
This is very cool Deb. I will definitely try this one out.
DebH57 (author)  CAWildWoman6 years ago
Thanks let us know how it goes.
We did some l ast night, very fast and easy.
Very cool project Deb
DebH57 (author)  AmazingGracie6 years ago
Thanks Grace
Arghus6 years ago
my mother will really appriciate this.. nicely explained
DebH57 (author)  Arghus6 years ago
Always glad to help Arghus. Thanks for letting me know.
BettyBoop16 years ago
We did some of these with the grandkids last night, it's really fast and easy and they had a lot of fun. 5 Stars
DebH57 (author)  BettyBoop16 years ago
Thanks Betty, glad you enjoyed it.
pondhopper6 years ago
I understand you can use jello as a base, read it in Farmer's Almanac.
DebH57 (author)  pondhopper6 years ago
I don't read farmers almanac but I don't see why you couldn't, if it makes the towel stick together. Thanks for your comment, Pondhopper.
bmlbytes6 years ago
I saw in a gift shop one time a small greeting card that at the bottom of it, it instructed you to plant the card, and that a flower would grow. Perhaps you could modify this technique to make your own greeting cards.
DebH57 (author)  bmlbytes6 years ago
See my instructable here on that very subject:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Paper-That-Grows-Recycle-Renew-and-Plant--1/

Thanks for your comment.
bmlbytes DebH576 years ago
Oh cool, I didn't see that one before.
DebH57 (author)  bmlbytes6 years ago
NP Just goes to show that Great Minds Think Alike!
Oh yes, that's "Our Deb" a real jewel BTW wasn't there a spell check as part of the comments options??? I need it ;0(
DebH57 (author)  porcupinemamma6 years ago
LOL Lynn I use IE Spell
Niiiiiiiiiiiice!!!! great idea. Thanks for sharing
DebH57 (author)  porcupinemamma6 years ago
You are more than welcome Lynn, thanks for your comment
Very cool I like this one
DebH57 (author)  AmazingGracie6 years ago
Thanks Grace
Mikey D6 years ago
Is the corn starch just glue? Or does it add any nutrients to the immediate area of the seed? Also, does the temporary "wet" condition of the seed in the cornstarch mixture initiate germination or is the shelf life of the seeds unaltered? Thanks for your idea! Mikey
DebH57 (author)  Mikey D6 years ago
No the cornstarch is what holds the seed in place and when it dries and keeps the paper towel together to protect the seed in a safe non toxic way. It doesn't get germination started that I know of and I have never experienced seeds that won't grow so the shelf life appears to remain the same.
kcli6 years ago
Aahhhhaa...so cornstarch dots is the answer I have tried making these before using my sewing machine- - no don't bother ..what a mess. I am looking forward to making a bunch of these when my garden goes to seed. Thanks so much!
DebH57 (author)  kcli6 years ago
LOL You are welcome Kcll.
unclejoe6 years ago
elegant!
DebH57 (author)  unclejoe6 years ago
Thanks Uncle Joe!
wazzup1056 years ago
Nice idea... must try.
DebH57 (author)  wazzup1056 years ago
I think you will be pleased with the results Wazzup. Thanks for your comment.
M.Hunter6 years ago
Handy way to store seeds for quick planting
DebH57 (author)  M.Hunter6 years ago
Thanks M, it's amazing how much time it saves at planting time and provides some winter gardening activity while we wait for Spring.
valamas6 years ago
nice suggestion of food colouring
DebH57 (author)  valamas6 years ago
Thanks Valamas, it does make it easier on the eyes.
canida6 years ago
Wow, that looks easy! Great project.
DebH57 (author)  canida6 years ago
It's very easy Canida. Thanks for your comment.