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Making your own Seed Tapes

Seed tapes are an easy way to plant a row of seeds with precision spacing. This is a valuable technique when you have a short supply of seeds, or each is very expensive. It provides for uniform spacing and avoids the need to thin out sprouting seedlings. Control freaks also love that they can predetermine plant spacing without having to "eyeball" it on the spot.

Simply put, seed tapes are just seeds fastened to some sort of thin biodegradable paper by an adhesive that itself is biodegradable. This allows for the plant roots to grow through the paper as the adhesive dissolves around the seed so as not to obstruct growth.

In a small pan, dissolve 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in 1 cup of cold water. Cook over a medium flame, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from getting lumpy. Once it starts to boil and turns into a translucent gel-like mixture, remove it from the stove, and let it cool to room temperature.

Get some paper towels, leaving the sheets attached, and tear off a section of about five feet. Cut the length of the towels into long strips that are about 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide.

Take a look at your seed package and determine the proper planting distance for this variety. You might want to gently label a corner of each tape with the name of the variety it will plant. This will avoid confusion later and help you to properly label your garden plantings.

Take the cooled cornstarch mixture and put a few spoonfuls into a small plastic bag. Work the gel mixture toward one corner of the bag, removing as much excess air as possible, then seal the bag. Next you'll need to snip off the corner of the bag to create a pastry bag like tool, similar to those that bakers use to ice cakes. If you are doing more than one type of seed, think about the size of the cut you make in the bag first. Smaller seeds will only need a tiny speck of gel, while larger ones may need a glob. It's always possible to put a bigger notch in the corner of the bag if you need bigger globs, so start with your small seeds first.

At this point it's a simple matter of dabbing on the gel at the right spacing (use a ruler and pre-mark lightly with a pencil) and putting the seed in each dab. If your seeds are very small, you may want to put the seed into the cornstarch gel mixture (after it's cooled) before even placing it into the bag. Then you can mix them together and seed the tape by simply dabbing in the right spots.

One creative use of seed tapes is to plant them in patterns. This would allow you to precisely determine where various flowers or foil age will grow in relation to each other. Think how your loved one would like their name in flowers! Or how about your street address spelled out in daisies?! The possibilities are endless.

 

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