Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Homemade Seed Tape

This is a blog from last year and I wanted to show it again for this year's gardens.  I made this homemade seed tape last year.  It worked really well.  The seeds sprouted beautifully ... and then the fabric end of the high tunnel blew back and forth and eradicated the tender shoots.  I've made more seed tape for this year and plan to plant them outside.  I think/hope I'll be successful!

When shopping for this year's garden seeds, you've probably seen seed tapes for such things as carrots and spinach.  The tiny seeds are spaced evenly on a biodegradable tape and you just lay it out in the garden.  

Seed tapes look like they would save a lot of back-breaking work and a lot of bending over to fiddle with teeny-tiny seeds in the garden.  It always seems like when I'm sowing my seeds I end up planting twice as much as I need and then I have to thin out a lot of my baby plants.  But, because the seeds on the tapes are evenly spaced, you save on the amount of seed you use when planting.  Then later, you can cut down on how much time you must spend thinning out your plants.  Seed tapes can save time and money!  

One problem with seed tapes though, is that there are only a few varieties offered, and if you want to plant organic or heirloom seeds you're pretty much out of luck.  

I've been reading about homemade seed tapes in the various blogs I follow and I thought I would give it a try.  I've read about different variations such as using paper napkins as a base, or using Elmer's glue to stick the seeds onto the tape.  But after some research, what looked best to me was using a very biodegradable toilet paper because I could lay out the long strips that I needed and then I used a simple flour and water paste to stick on the seeds.  

So I gathered my supplies: toilet paper, my flour and water "glue," a ruler, a Burpee seed dispenser (very helpful!), a pen to write what I was planting, some toothpicks, my seeds, and went to work.  

First, I laid out the toilet paper and then measured the distances apart for my seeds.  I planted Burpee's Organic Onion Evergreen Long White Bunching down one side and Burpee's Organic Lettuce Buttercrunch down the other side.  I hope to lay the tapes out and run the drip tape down the center.  I planted the seeds at a distance where I would thin every other plant - if they all germinate.  

Using a toothpick, I put a dab of the flour glue, and then, using the seed dispenser I tapped one seed onto each dab.  

I waited about half an hour or so for the glue to completely dry, and then rolled up the tape.  Voila!  

I was happy with the results.  When I'm planting dark colored seeds directly into the dark soil, it's often hard to see how much I've tapped out of the seed dispenser.  But planting dark seeds onto a white background made very visible every dropped or extra seed I planted.  

Creating these seed tapes is something you can easily do in the evening while watching t.v. or listening to the radio.  To make the work go faster you could even recruit the kids to help out!   

We're planting in the high tunnel tomorrow and hopefully I'll save my back a bit! 


  1. What a wonderful idea! I've never even considered using seed tape, but now I can totally see the benefit. I think I just might have to try this for this year's garden. Thanks for sharing this post at the Homestead Barn Hop!

  2. How cool - I would never have thought of this!

  3. Great idea! I especially have a hard time with carrots, but I never find the varieties I like with the tape. I may just give this a try. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Cool. I shall show my husband this idea!!