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
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
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.