Wintersowing-Permanent Embossed Mini Blind Plant Tags




Introduction: Wintersowing-Permanent Embossed Mini Blind Plant Tags

The following is a technique relating to Wintersowing.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Wintersowing is a method of starting seeds for your garden.
No need for complicated light setups or heat mats or any of the bother that starting seeds indoors using traditional methods is usually associated with.
No need to buy expensive seed starting flats.

You simply sow your seed in easily prepared, "found", recycled containers and set them out in the yard in the dead of winter.
They freeze, they thaw, get snowed and rained on and, come Spring, grow.
Sounds crazy but it works. Just like it does in nature.  

See or the Wintersowing forums at for details on what types of seeds can be sown in this way. 
The method is also popular as it is a great method for recycling discarded plastic items into useful things.
You can look at my other Instructables posts for info on how to prepare these to be used.
One of the most frequently discussed topics relating to WS in how to mark all the containers you sow.
This is very important come Spring when things start sprouting.
A hundred containers with who knows what in them due to faded or missing tags is no fun.
Lots of variations on how to make labels have been mentioned and many are less then effective.
Sharpies can fade in the sun, paint pens can be hard to locate and are not exactly cheap in some locations, duct tape can come off.
So what to do???
One thing that can be done is to make embossed, permanent labels.
Well how do you do that Monte???
Glad you asked.
First things first.
You will need a few supplies.
  • Some slats from an old mini blind
  • Scissors
  • A ball point pen (ink not needed)
And the secret ingredient………Metal Foil Tape
What’s that?
Metal foil tape is used in the HVAC trade to seal duct work.
Duct tape is an adhesive backed fabric.
Metal Foil Tape is actual, fairly thick, aluminum foil with a paper lined adhesive backing.
It is designed to seal metal ductwork in heating and air conditioning applications.
A very unforgiving environment with huge temperature and moisture variations.
Often the ducts are sealed up in wall cavities so a failure can be costly to repair.
To prevent this, the adhesive is very strong so it will stand up in gardening applications with no problems.

Step 1: Step 1- Where to Get the Tape

You can find this tape at any Home Depot or Lowes in the plumbing section.
The one I get around here is Nashua-322 but there are other manufacturers.

3M makes an identical product known as 3M-425
Any competent (good luck on this) sales associate in the store should know what you need or you can look for it online.
Now, it is not cheap.
A large (150 yd) roll is $15 or more but, if you cut it up as suggested in Step 5 below you will yield enough tags to make either 2700-4” or 3600-3” labels. And smaller (50 yd) rolls are also available.
Price out the commercially available embossed labels on the web and you’ll find it to be quite a bargain.

Step 2: Step 2-Getting Started-Preparing the Miniblind Pieces

Now that you have all your supplies we can begin.
Decide how long you want the labels/tags to be and cut up a bunch from the mini blind slats.

I’ve found that 5-6” is a good size.
Cut a point on one end if you wish.

Step 3: Step 3-Getting Started-Preparing the Tape Blanks

Cut a bunch of pieces of tape off the roll somewhat shorter than the mini blind pieces. Let’s say 3-4”. You will note that the mini blind is 1” wide and the tape is 2” wide.
Now, you can just use the full width but since I like to economize (translation-I’m cheap) you can cut each of these pieces down the center creating two blanks.

Step 4: Step 4-Adding Info to the Foil Blanks

We’re almost done.
Now what you need to do is write whatever info you wish on the metal tape blanks with a ball point.
The soft metal embosses very easily.
Some info you may want to add is:
·Annual or Perennial
·Sun exposure needs
You get the idea.
Once you have your tags written out we can finish up.

Step 5: Step 5-Finishing Up

Now it’s a simple matter of sticking the, now embossed, blanks onto the mini blind pieces.
Since it is actual metal, a simple bend at the corner releases the backing paper.
Carefully lay it over the mini blind piece and stick.
Stick the tag in your WS container and it will be readable when you need it.
No fading, un-sticking, etc.
In fact they are so durable you can put them out into the garden when you plant out.
At the end of the growing season they may likely be in good enough shape to be reused next season.
Just wipe them off with a damp cloth.
A time saver if you plan to sow the same varieties from year to year.  

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    5 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I LOVE this idea! Here in sunny Southern CA my labels always seem to fade away. Can't wait to try this!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    If you were to buy an alphanumeric stamp set (fairly cheap from a tool store) you could simply stamp the mini blind metal itself. No need to purchase the aluminum foil tape.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    here is a good place to get tools that are affordable Fort Wayne, IN had a walk in store I would by lot of tools from there and not go bankrupted doing it


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent! Low-tech, easy, and uses commonly available and recycled materials! Unfortunately, I won't be able to have a garden this year, but by next year I may have a farm...


    10 years ago on Introduction

     Well. I do like this one. Even in England there is always enough weather to eat the words off plant labels so this is a proper job for us plantsmen. Thank you.
    It strikes me that it can also be used to make semi-permanent shrub and tree labels with an aluminium sheet support instead of the ?bamboo? of the miniblind. As a printer I have always had ready access to old offset lithography plates (which are simply specially treated light gauge aluminium sheet) which you can cut, with an ordinary pair of kitchen shears, into pieces as small (or big) as you like. Speak nicely to your printer and he'll probably let you have one, the best that can happen to them normally is going for recycling, the worst is straight into the skip (dumpster, I think, in American parlance). As good Instructables members we don't want that happening, do we? There is a small concern about some plates which may have been made for printing documents which contain confidential information; make sure the printer doesn't give you one of those as it could get him into trouble. If you explain what you are doing I don't think many printers would be uncooperative; we all think the general public is rather eccentric, and if you confirm this by saying it's for labelling trees…