Monday, April 12, 2010

Ecolovies ~ How to make your own seed tape

Thinning seedlings is just about my least favorite activity in the garden. Not only does it feel like wasting plants to me, but it is a tedious chore. Using seed tape has virtually stopped the need for thinning plants in my garden.

One thing I have always used seed tape for was carrots. Their seeds are SO tiny (making them very easy to 'over plant'). Carrots need to have distance between them or they will not grow well. Also, if you thin them it puts the sent of carrots into the air and attracts the carrot fly, which can really ruin your entire crop if not taken care of. So enter; the homemade seed tape.

You need:

Package of seeds
Toilet paper (not the super thick one... cheap ones work best)
a bottle of honey
a few bamboo skewers (or tooth picks)
craft sticks
sharpie pen

#1: Read the back of the seed package. You are looking for two main things... planting depth and spacing. If you cannot find them, or somehow cannot use the packaging (such as gifted or saved seed) then use the rule of thumb given here.

#2. Lay the toilet paper down on a flat surface with no wind (inside is best, although be prepared as it can get sticky). Run a small bead of honey (as small as possible. They don't need much.) down one side of the toilet paper.

#3. Dampen the end of your skewer just slightly, and stick it into your seed packet. A few seeds should stick on the very tip of the skewer. Place these seeds in the honey, spacing them as directed on the seed package (in my case, the carrot seeds were spaced 1 1/2 inches apart). Only apply one or two seeds per spot. The goal is not to thin them later. Planting more seeds in blank spaces in the heat of summer is easier than thinning.

#4. Once you have all your seeds in place, fold the toilet paper over and press them down on top of the honey line.

#5. Place your seed tape in the soil at the depth indicated by the seed packaging, and cover with soil.

#6. Label your new row with the craft sticks and the sharpie pen.

#7. Water in very well. You want to soak the entire area down to the seed tape a couple times.

In a few weeks time, you should have tiny carrot seedlings, coming up in perfect spacing and perfect rows!




Anna said...

A great tip. Thanks. I don't like planting carrots because of how difficult it is to not crowd them (oh and the wait time-- these seem to take forever). I'll have to reconsider and give this a go.

Anonymous said...

Great tip! Most of my seedling dies because I felt bad about thinning and didn't do it :(

Shirley said...

Super cool! I've never thinned seedlings before.....just let them grow. LOL!

pink and green mama MaryLea said...

Argh!! Why oh Why didn't I read this before I planted carrots, onions, and lettuce yesterday -- teeny tiny seeds too close together, oh yes...because I planted them yesterday and you posted this today! : )
(oh well...lesson learned, I'll try it next time. )

Gardentyme said...

LOVE THIS! I hate to thin seedlings so mine almost always get crowded. Thanks for the great tip! Your garden looks great and the soil looks amazing!

Quirky Momma said...

Brilliant! I should have read this before we planted our spinach this year! The little sprouts popping up are anything but in neat rows!

leanne said...

What a great idea! We'll have to give this a try for sure. I always feel like I'm wasting something when I thin the seedlings:)

Hobbit said...

oh this rocks! i hate thinning carrots--it feels like a little murder with each fairy sized carrot that i pull out. now your genius solution has appeared to save the day. today i weeded the bed, now my dd and i have this perfect third grade math project to do--measuring, gardening, labeling--it's got it all. thanks!!!

Ajidulce said...

I have done this with a sheet of newspaper, instead of strips. Made homemade glue of flour and water and made dots 2" apart in all directions, then applied a seed to each dot with a toothpick.
Just last night I was thinking that I would try toilet paper next year for ease of breakdown in the soil. My sheet of newspaper germinated great but I had to use great care that the sheet didn't create a pool of water and loosen the seeds off.
And honey! That is great. I'll try it!

Alexi said...

I would choose a bleach free product like some Seventh Generation paper towels or something like that. It is difficult to separate the two ply but you can do it. Bleach does not sound like an attractive seed starter to me.

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