Commercially produced seed tape is great and very convenient but the drawback is that there aren’t very many seed types that are available this way. Seed tape is also quite expensive compared to bulk seeds in packages. The solution is to make your own seed tape and use any seeds you want.
You can make your own seed tape by using unbleached paper towel or unbleached toilet paper. Learning to make your own seed tape will help you accurately plant tiny seeds that are difficult to space out properly just by sprinkling. Some seeds like lettuce, carrots, basil and radishes are very small and hard to plant, so making your own seed tape is a great solution. It takes a little time but it’s a very economical way to maximize the yield from the seeds that you buy.
How to Make Seed Tape
Use a long section of the paper towel without tearing apart the sheets. Cut paper towel into strips about 3″ wide
Use the toilet paper as is, it’s already a good width (you could cut the toilet paper in half for narrower seed tape)
Then make a thick paste out of flour and water, something about the consistency of thick white glue
Try 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 tablespoon of water to start with and then adjust from there. For a larger amount do 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water. You may need a bit more water to reach the right thick “white-gluey” consistency.
It shouldn’t be too gloppy or difficult to spread at the same time as not being too watery. This is important because if too much water is present the seeds will sprout.
Pour your carrot seeds or other desired seeds into a small dish
Then take a wooden skewer and dip the end into the flour mixture
Use that to pick up a single seed from the dish and then wipe it on the paper about 1/4 of the way in from the edge
Continue to do this along the length of the paper using the horizontal spacing that is recommended on the seed package
Do it in small sections so that you can fold the paper in half over the seeds and press the two sides of the paper together using the flour paste as the glue before it dries. That’s the key, press it together before the flour dries. The flour paste needs to stick to the other side of the paper.
Continue dabbing the seeds and folding over the paper for as long as you want the tape to be. It can be torn or cut into shorter lengths later when you plant.
You should end up with a seed strip about 1″ or 2″ inches wide with the seeds held securely along it and dried in the glob of flour paste. Let the strip dry completely.
You can then roll up your seed tape and store it in a cool dry place or you can take it straight outside and plant it if the timing is right in the growing season.
What about Indoor Gardening?
If you want to grow herbs or indoor basil in, say 6″ round pots on the window sill, then you can make seed tape using the paper towel as well.
The difference is simple, just cut two sheets of paper towel in a circle that’s the same size as the soil surface in the 6″ round pot. Very rarely you will be able to find “seed disks” in the stores to fit round pots but not often. It’s really simple to just make your own.
The basil seeds are black and impossible to see once on the soil surface, but on paper towel they can’t hide at all! Use the same method as you did previously with dabbing the skewer into the flour glue but arrange the seeds in a circle pattern, leaving a little space between each seed. Then press down the other circle of paper towel on top and allow it to dry.
These seed circles can be stored flat in a ziplock bag in a cool dark place until you are ready to plant them.
Leave a comment and let me know if you need help making your seed tape or seed disks. It’s a very inexpensive gardening activity that can be done anytime of year. This can be done with wild flower seeds too which would make a nice addition to a Mother’s Day card.
If it’s the middle of winter and you’re wishing you could get out in the garden and wishing that spring would just get here already, then try this activity and get your seed planning started now and be ready for the spring time growing season.
This is also a great gardening activity to do with kids. Help them make seed tape and disks in the winter and then be ready to plant in the spring!
(I’ll be doing this project within the next week, so the pictures will be posted soon)