Making Your Own Seed Tape
A fun activity to do with children involves simple materials: toilet tissue, glue, and small vegetable seeds to make your own seed tape. And, as an added bonus, you won't have to thin your plants later.
Produced by the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education at Kansas State University. For more information, visit our website at: http://www.kansasgreenyards.org
Making Your Own Seed Tape
Thinning your seedlings can sometimes be a challenge for gardeners because of our busy schedules, and the plants are growing rapidly. We may not have the time to go and do the proper spacing for some of our small seeded vegetables.
Making seed tape or using a seed tape is a technique to consider. There are commercial products such as this, which can be a solution. Another option is to make your own seed tape. This is something you can do at home with the kids on the kitchen table.
You can use any kind of paper that will dissolve into the garden. Something that I’ve selected is using just some toilet tissue. First, measure out the length that you’ll need, depending on the size of your garden.
There are different types of glue or adhesives, so that the seed will stick to the tape. You can make your own using just some flour and water. This would be another fun activity for the kids to do.
Spacing will depend on the kind of vegetable that you’re growing. Carrots and radishes should be spaced 2-3 inches apart. You can read the seed packet to find out that information, or look at some extension publications.
I’m using a 3 inch spacing for my vegetables. We’re going to use some radish seed today. You can use a tape measure to help get the proper spacing. Just make little marks on the paper. If you’re confident in the germination of your seed, you can plant one seed on each dab of glue. If you’re not very confident, you can add another seed.
You can use the other side of the tissue to space out the seeds for a second row. Some of our seeds may be larger and won’t stay on the tape as well. So, you can fold over the tissue to seal in one row of seeds. For example, a glue stick will work well. Place the dabs a little bit away from the edge of the tissue since you’ll be folding the paper. Then, add a few extra dabs to make sure it holds. This technique is just for larger seeds that may come loose before you get them planted.
Seeds come in different sizes, and so the smaller the seed, the better it sticks. Also, tissue paper comes in different dimensions. We have some that have the markings on it, and that comes in handy for making accurate spacing. Also, I’ve noticed that some tissues have 3-inch and some have 4-inch perforations. So, that can also be used as a guide. If you’re using a 3-inch spacing, you can put a dab of glue at each perforation. And that can help space out your crop properly.
Sometimes we need to write on our seed tape to remember what it is. We know that these are radishes, so you can put an R or write radish on there. That way you can remember what you put in your seed tape.
If you’re ready to plant you can go ahead and take it out into the garden. If it’s too wet out, or not time to plant, you can just roll it up carefully. Your seed storage is the same as if you were storing an open seed packet. You’ll need to keep it cool and dry. You may want to put it in a plastic bag and find a cool location such as the refrigerator. Or you can store it in a cool location until you’re ready to plant.
When you’re ready to plant, the conditions are right and the soil is ready to go, you can remove the seed tape from the plastic bag. There are several techniques in planting seed tape. You can make a furrow to put it into. Sometimes, the soil may be too wet to plant, so you can lay the seed tape on top of the soil. If it’s a little windy, the wind can catch the tape and blow it around. To prevent this, you can use some water to dampen the planting area, and then the paper will stick to the soil. It sticks pretty well, and may tear.
So you’ll need to carefully get it into place before it blows away or starts to tear. Then, you can take some soil from your garden, or using some potting media and put it over the tape to the proper depth for the vegetable. For instance, with radishes, you’ll need ½ inch of soil to cover the seed tape. Once you have it covered, water it, and it should be ready to grow for this growing season.
This feature story prepared with Gregg Eyestone, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Riley County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.