Seed tape is a handy way to make a neat or an unruly garden. It allows you to set up good spacing on your plants, align them so cultivation is easier, and you can even do this in a downpour.
I first discovered seed tape many years ago and always thought it to be a good, but a very expensive way to plant vegetables and flowers.
I have tried several methods and this is now my favorite. I will also tell about one other method which I tried but am not happy with.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
1) Seeds-most gardeners have many seeds they either wanted to plant or forgot to get to. This method works for both Flowers and vegetables. I work inside while making seed tape.
2) I like to use a "seeder"- mine is seed master, but other types work well. It concentrates the seed in one area and shaking it slightly causes a seed (or a few) to drop off the end. Working outside I often drop too many seeds in one area, and then curse and try and find & separate them.
3) a mug or a bowl + a paint brush
4) Tape, to hold down paper
5) Toilet paper and cashiers (receipt) tape
6) Perlite -to help in planting later
7) Gelatin and a measuring cup
****Go to step 4 if you understand gardening principles well.****
Step 2: Ground Preparation
It may not be obvious but you ought to prepare the soil easily on so it's ready for you to plant as quickly as you are ready, and the soil will need a little time to settle, and push up a few weeds while you're making seed tape.
1) dig over your bed with a fork, and let it rest for a day.
2) the weeds (yes they will be there) will wilt and add green manure to your bed, making it healthier.
3) Furrow or make channels for the seed tape to sit in. These generally should be about 2" (5 cm) deep and about as wide.
4) Space between rows is helpful, but try not to make these VERY wide. I usually make them about 3-4" (10 cm) wide. To get closer than this may cause furrows to collapse, wider than this and space is wasted. This is not an exact science so don't get bogged down by numbers.
Step 3: Mistakes Not to Make (I Already Did Them) , This Is a Better Way!
I started using painters (blue tape) and toilet paper. The blue tape doesn't break down well and appears to hold the seed too well.
Plant deeply enough to insulate the tape from the sun, and moisture loss. You could cover this with mulch instead of soil and vermiculite, or Perlite. Peat moss would also work, but there are good ecological reasons to stop using this altogether. (They get peat moss from old bogs, and the removal changes that ecosystem drastically.)
Step 4: Seed Tape
1) I like to work on a waxed (any furniture wax will do) table so the tape won't stick to it. Mine is a sheet of plywood. I tape one end of the toilet paper down, then unroll it, and gently pull it tight, tape the far end as well.
2) Tape one end of the cashier's tape to the table and unroll it on top of the toilet paper, and tape it so it is taut as well. I work to one side, I have tried it in the middle and found it was harder to get the paper fixed it the end.
3) Label the tape at this point so you know what's going on it. I like to label the tape as I make it. This usually gets obscured a bit, but it helps especially when making many tapes on one day. I use a felt pen and write the name directly on the cashier's tape.
4) Paint gelatin onto the tape, if it's thick, give it 10-15 seconds in a microwave to make it liquid again.
5Gently distribute the seeds onto the tape, some of the seeds may go onto the side (Circled). Don't worry they'll be folded into the tape in the next step.
Step 5: Folding the Tape
- Fold the exposed half of the toilet paper onto the seeded and gelled cashiers tape.
- Gently pat the tape down. This will roll all of the seeds onto the tape which might have gone to the side.
- Using the paint brush, daub a little gelatin onto the (now) top layer, causing the top (now) layer of toilet paper to bond to the cashier's tape.
Step 6: Finishing Up
- I have made 3 seed tapes in this picture to show the final steps.
- The one to the right is the last one I made,
- The middle tape has been flipped over and had gelatin daubed onto it.
- the left tape has been gelled on both sides and is now relabeled (as it tends to get obscured).
Step 7: Planting Preparation
- Putting the seed tape in place
- Cut the seed tape with scissors or a knife.
- Be sure the most amount of seeds (some will go to the "other side") are facing up.
- When you have leftover lengths use then in a neighboring furrow, so you'll know what you're looking at as they grow up.
- Be sure to put markers on the rows, it's nice to know what you've planted.
- Drizzle vermiculite or perlite onto the furrow until the tape is buried. You might use other materials such as peat moss or even sawdust if you're trying to modify your soil. Top up and then either rake (tines up) or use your fingers to blend a bit of soil onto the added material.
- Level and water. Established plants need ~1" (2.5 cm) of water every week. Seedlings need more.
Step 8: And Be Sure to Look Around at Your Garden
Find your cat, look in the sky, these are also parts of a gardeners experience.and water the seedling areas at least twice a day. You'll have a lovely garden with half the work.