PHOTO: Jessica Walliser
January 27, 2017

Unless you have tiny, nimble fingers, you’ve probably struggled with sowing tiny seeds. Carrots, radish, lettuce and other veggies with small seeds can be difficult to space properly in the garden. Most gardeners sow these seeds too thickly and then end up pulling many of the seedlings out during the thinning process, but if you learn how to make seed tapes, the problem is solved.

Seed tape is made of a biodegradable paper that breaks down very quickly. The seeds are embedded inside of the paper, and they’re perfectly spaced for optimum growth. The entire seed tape is planted into the ground, right down the length of a row, and the seeds germinate as the paper breaks down. Unfortunately, commercial seed tapes are expensive. The solution, of course, is to make your own seed tape.

What You’ll Need

seed tape supplies
Jessica Walliser

Thankfully making seed tape is easy. It requires just a few items:

  • roll of thin, single-ply toilet paper
  • white, water-soluble school glue
  • seeds
  • toothpick or wooden skewer
  • 2 small plates

Step 1

seed tape
Jessica Walliser

Choose a comfortable work surface, such as a long table or kitchen counter. Begin by rolling out a length of toilet paper that’s as long as your garden row. Put a dollop of glue on one small plate, and put the seeds on the other.

Step 2

seed tape
Jessica Walliser

Dip the pointed end of the toothpick or wooden skewer into the glue just enough to get a small amount of glue on the tip. Use the glue-covered skewer point to pick up a single seed.

Step 3

seed tape
Jessica Walliser

Place the seed onto the toilet paper near its center line. There will be enough glue stuck to the seed to attach it to the paper when it dries. Do not go overboard and use a lot of glue. A tiny amount is all that’s needed. Repeat with more seeds, making sure they’re spaced according to the seed packet instructions. Keep adding seeds down the length of the toilet paper until the entire row is completed.

Step 4

seed tape
Jessica Walliser

When all the seeds are in place, run a thin line of glue down one side of the toilet paper, about 1 inch away from its edge. Fold the paper in half, pressing one side against the other to stick them together. The seeds will be embedded between the folded layers, close to the opposite edge.

Step 5

seed tape
Jessica Walliser

Use a pen or marker to label the seed tape with its varietal name. Once its fully dry, the tape can be rolled or folded and stored in a cool, dry location until planting time arrives.

Growing With Seed Tape

To plant your seed tape, dig a furrow down the planting row and lay the seed tape into the furrow. being careful to plant it so the seeds are at the correct depth, as noted on the seed packet. Cover the seed tape with soil, water it in well and wait. The paper will soon decompose and your perfectly spaced seeds will begin to sprout!


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