Have you ever struggled to plant tiny seeds like those from snapdragons or poppies? Or maybe spacing seeds appropriately is a struggle for you. I can relate. That’s why I’m a huge fan of seed tape.
Seed tape is an easy way to ensure the proper distance between plants and allows you to pick up small seeds. That means you don’t need to worry about seeds flying out of your hand when the wind blows or sticking to your fingers as you try to push seeds into the soil.
You can buy seed tape at your local garden center, but why not try making your own? It’s a simple project.
What Is Seed Tape?
Seed tape is a strip of sticky fabric or cloth that holds the seeds at your preferred distance apart. This enables you to place your seeds where you want them without the frustration of dealing with sticky, tiny, or difficult-to-handle seeds.
We’ve all been there. No matter if you’re new to gardening or you’ve been planting for years, everyone has experienced the struggle of spacing seeds. You wouldn’t be the first person to become so frustrated that you just sprinkled the seeds onto the soil and hoped for the best.
Seed tape alleviates this problem.
You can also use seed tape to prepare seeds for young children so they don’t need to do all the sowing themselves.
Benefits of Seed Tape
Seed tape helps prevents overcrowding and the negative consequences for your plants.
Novice gardeners might not be aware of the problem that overcrowding can cause to their crops until their plants start to suffer. Here are the issues that overcrowding contributes to:
- Nutrient Deficiencies: If there are too many seeds (and eventually plants) in one place, the plants won’t be able to get all the nutrients they need and won’t grow successfully.
- No Flowering: A sign of a healthy plant is flowering and fruiting. Lack of watering, sunlight, or air circulation can be the cause of poor flowering, but it can also be due to overcrowding.
- Underwatering: Obviously, plants need access to water to survive. If they’re too close together, they have to compete for the available moisture.
- Pests and Diseases: When there is poor air circulation when seeds are close together it can lead to fungal problems and powdery mildew. As well as this the lack of space makes for a great environment for aphids and mites.
- Lack of Light: Crowded plants have a hard time accessing sunlight. This stunts growth.
However, there are other reasons to make your seed tape this year such as preventing birds from devouring your seed.
It’s not unusual for birds to eat away at freshly sown seeds so this extra layer of protection can help prevent this from happening.
Of course, another great benefit to seed tape is that it’s completely biodegradable. When you make your seed tape at home using these materials you don’t need to be thinking about harming the wildlife or ecosystem. Instead, it’s safe and efficient to use!
Lastly, the tape is excellent for gardeners with mobility issues or for kids who want to try gardening. It makes the sowing process quick and easy so anyone of all ages can give it a go.
How to Make DIY Seed Tape
The first stage in making your DIY seed tape is collecting the right materials. You most likely have most of the materials at home already, so you might not need to worry about going to the shops and spending lots of money.
Here is a list of seed tape materials:
- All-purpose flour
- Toilet paper
- Marker or pen
- Measuring tape
1. Measure the Planting Area
Before you can lay down your tape you need to measure the area where you’ll plant the seeds. After you have the length of the soil measured you need to roll out and cut the toilet paper to the same length. Ideally, you want to do this on a flat, clean surface to make it as accurate as possible.
It’s a good idea to create several strips of tape at a time so you can have a collection ready for when you plant in the next few hours or days. This will save you time and effort.
2. Mark the Spacing
Next, you should find your seed packet. On every label, there is a section that tells you how much to “thin to” or how far to space the seeds. Use the pen or marker to mark out the spaces where you will place each seed.
3. Mix Flour and Water
Mix 2.5 tsp of flour and 1 tsp of water. The mixture shouldn’t be too runny or too thick. Once you feel it thickening up, stop mixing. After the paste is ready you can dip the chopstick in it and dab the liquid on the toilet paper at each mark that you made previously.
4. Place the Seeds
Finally, place the seeds onto the flour and water paste. Then, fold the toilet paper over the seeds and press down gently. Write down the name of the seeds so you don’t forget what you’ve got.
Leave the seed tape to dry for a few hours to make sure that the paste turns solid. Plant within a few days.
To store, you can wrap the tape around a piece of cardboard.
How to Use Seed Tape
Using seed tape isn’t much different than planting seeds the old-fashioned way. First, prep the area where your plants will grow. Ensure that the soil is at the right pH, has the proper drainage and texture, and contains the correct nutrients.
Follow the planting instructions for depth, dig a trench, and place the tape in there with your seeds. Cover the whole thing with soil. Make sure to place the next strip at an appropriate distance away. You don’t want to crowd the strips.
The best way to use the seed tape is to lie it down in a flat position. Remember to cover the whole length of the tape.
I’ve also found that labeling is key. There’s nothing worse than putting down a strip of seeds, only to forget what you’ve planted.
Don’t forget to water as needed. It’s best to water with a fine spray rather than a stream or you risk displacing the seeds after the tape dissolves.
Alternatives to Seed Tape
Seed tape is only one method of planting seeds for accuracy and better results there are also some other options you can try if you’d like:
Seed tape is mainly used for small seeds like herbs, carrots, and greens. Whereas seed discs are used for small or large seeds. You can buy them or make them, and they help provide the seed with nutrients and a base as it matures.
Seed mats are ideal for bedding borders, big planters, and lawns. Seed carpets are the best choice for wildflowers, mixed vegetables, and salad mixtures.
As you can see there’s something for every crop, but seed tape is perfect for those tricky little seeds that take hours to handle and are impossible to place correctly – especially in the wind.