Properly spacing vegetable seeds is easy when you know how to make seed tape yourself. Sure, you can buy seed tape at many garden centers, but if you’re the kind of gardener seeking to use organic, heirloom, non-GMO seeds you’re in for quite a hunt.
So why not make your own?
How To Make DIY Seed Tape
You will need:
- Paper towels (unbleached, preferably made from recycled materials)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2-4 teaspoons water
- A toothpick or chopstick
- Your choice of seeds
1. Lay a paper towel out flat and cut it vertically into 1-inch strips. Depending on the brand you use, you should get 6-8 strips per sheet.
2. Make a paste from the flour and water, stirring well to dissolve all lumps. You want it on the thick side so the paper towel doesn’t get soggy.
3. Look at your seed packet and determine the proper spacing for your seedlings.
4. Using the toothpick or chopstick, place a blob of flour paste on a strip of paper towel at the spacing distance called for on the seed packet. (Carrots, for instance, should be spaced 3 inches apart, so you can fit about 3 per paper towel strip.)
5. Place a few seeds on top of each blob of flour paste. Set the strip aside and let dry.
6. Once the flour paste is dry, you’re ready to plant. Or, roll the strip up carefully and store it in an air-tight, light-proof container until you’re ready to plant. Be sure to label the container so you know what kind of seeds are in there!
Using DIY Seed Tape
To plant, draw a furrow in the soil at the planting depth called for on the seed packet. Carefully lay one of your homemade seed tapes on the soil and cover gently with soil or sand, depending on the seed packet’s instructions.
Water well and watch them grow. The paper towel will dissolve over time and your seedlings roots will grow through it. The decomposition will add organic compounds that will help aerate and improve your soil.
Some seeds, like beets, come in clusters. You can still use them with DIY seed tape but will want to thin your seedlings down so you only have one plant growing in the allotted space. Yes, it’s tempting to over-plant, but you’ll only be diminishing your harvest, not boosting it.
Don’t forget: with heirloom, non-GMO plants it’s always a good idea to harvest your own seeds at the end of the growing season and save them for the next year. In fact, you can make seed tapes at any time and, as long as you store them properly, they’ll be ready when you are.