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
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.