An Easy Hack To Improve Your Seed-Starting Success

This handy method of sowing small seeds takes just a few minutes of your time and saves you from having to thin seedlings later in the season.

by Jessica Walliser
PHOTO: Jessica Walliser

Sowing small seeds into the garden can be a challenge. Not only is it difficult to pick up individual seeds, it’s also tough to space them properly down the length of the garden row. Seeds of carrots, basil, lettuce, parsley, amaranth and begonias are notoriously tiny, making it difficult to keep them from being sown too thickly. DIY seed tape is certainly an effective way of sowing small seeds and ensuring they’re spaced properly, but you have other options, as well.

Sow Seeds With Seeding Gel

Seeding gel isn’t nearly as time-consuming as making a seed tape, but the seeds aren’t as perfectly spaced either. It’s the ideal method if you don’t need your seeds to be uniformly spaced; you just don’t want them to end up being too close together. When I use seeding gel, I save myself the trouble of having to thin the seedlings later in the season. It’s quick, efficient and, frankly, kind of fun.

What You’ll Need:

seeding gel materials
Jessica Walliser
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • small saucepan
  • zipper-top sandwich bag
  • scissors
  • seeds
  • stirring stick

Step 1

step 1
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Mix the cornstarch with the water and put the mixture into a small saucepan. Put the saucepan on the stove and bring it to a boil for 1 minute.

Step 2

step 2
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Let the mixture cool completely, spoon off the skin that forms on top of the gel, and then spoon the remaining gel into the zipper-top plastic bag.

Step 3

step 3
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Put a small number of seeds into the bag, and stir them so they’re distributed evenly throughout the gel. Squeeze the air out of the bag and zip it closed. Plant the seeds as quickly as possible; do not store them in the gel, as they’ll quickly begin to germinate.

Step 4

step 4
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To plant, head out to the garden and dig your planting furrow just as you always do. Use a scissors to cut a small triangle off one of the bottom corners of the bag.

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Step 5

step 5
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Slowly squeeze the gel out through the hole and down the length of your planting row, distributing the seeds as you go.

Step 6

Jessica Walliser

When the gel and seeds have been spread down the length of the furrow, cover them with a light layer of soil and water them in well.

Tips For Planting With Seedling Gel

After sowing small seeds using the seeding gel and then watering them in, the gel will dissolve away, leaving only the seeds behind.

For longer garden rows, mix a double or even triple batch of seeding gel and mix in more seeds. You can also adjust the flow rate by increasing or decreasing the size of the opening you make in the bottom corner of the bag.

To sow a lot of different small seeds, have a zipper-top bag ready for each different seed variety. Label each bag with the variety name and mix up a large batch of seeding gel. Once it’s cooled, divide a portion of it into each of the bags and mix in the seeds named on each of the bags. Take all the bags out to the garden and plant away.

It will take a bit of experimenting until you find what works best for each of the particular seeds you’re sowing in regards to the required hole size in the bag and the number of seeds to be mixed in with the gel, but it won’t take long until you see the merits of using this handy method of sowing small seeds into the garden.


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