I'll admit that there was a time when I didn't appreciate the usefulness of seed tapes. And then we added more garden beds, and I was able to plant more and more herbs and vegetables. Let me tell you that a day of crouching down, sowing teeny-tiny carrot or basil seeds is absolute murder on the back. And trying to get nice, neat, perfectly spaced rows of seeds is not exactly an easy feat. Especially if you have kids "helping" you!
So, now I've seen the light. Seed tape is a wonderful thing. It's also an expensive thing, if you try to buy it pre-made. Luckily, it's easy and inexpensive to make your own at home, from supplies you already have in the house.
- Newspaper (black and white, plain newspaper pages) cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch strips
How To Make Seed Tape
1. Make a paste out of flour and water. Start with 1/4 cup of flour, and add water until you have a paste-like consistency. it should easily coat a spoon, not just drip off.
2. Check the instructions on the back of your seed packet (or at the end of this post) to see how far to space seeds apart. Use the ruler, and write marks on your strips of newspaper at the correct intervals.
3. Dab a bit of flour paste onto the marks you wrote.
4. Place a seed (or two, if you're concerned about whether they'll germinate or not) into each dab of flour glue.
5. Write the name of the variety on each strip of newspaper.
6. Wait for the flour glue to dry completely, then store your seed tapes in an airtight container, preferably in a cool place until it's time to plant. The refrigerator works well, as does an unheated garage.
When it's time to plant, simply place your seed tape in the garden, and cover with soil, 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep, depending on what type of seed you're planting. Water in well, keep it moist, and wait for those first sprouts to show up.
Seed Spacing for Common Herbs, and Vegetables
Space your seeds on the seed tape according to the following general recommendations. You can also find this information on your seed packet.
- Basil: 4 inches
- Chives: 6 inches
- Cilantro: 6 inches
- Dill: 12 inches
- Mint: 12 inches
- Oregano: 6 inches
- Parsley: 6 inches
- Sage: 12 inches
- Thyme: 8 inches
Vegetables: These are small-seeded vegetables that are commonly sown directly in the garden).
- Arugula: 4 inches
- Asian greens (bok choy, tatsoi, mizuna): 4 inches
- Beets: 3 inches
- Carrots: 3 inches
- Collards: 6 inches
- Kale: 6 inches
- Lettuce: 6 inches
- Mustard greens: 6 inches
- Radishes: 2 inches
- Rapini: 6 inches
- Spinach: 4 inches
- Swiss chard: 6 inches
Note: you may need to thin these once they're growing in your garden. However, planting intensively (meaning the plants are fairly close together) is a great way to keep weeds at bay.
Seed tapes are an easy way to get your garden planted. Even better, you can make these seed tapes during the winter and early spring, while you're waiting to get out into your garden. They're also a great project to do with kids. We hope you give them a try!