Some seeds are so tiny that planting them can be difficult. You may end up with clumps of seedlings that need to be thinned later on, or it’s nearly impossible to see where the seeds are in the planting row so they turn out to be planted unevenly. Here’s a winter project that can make sowing seeds a lot easier and give you a head start on the garden. This is also a good project for getting the kids involved in gardening.
To begin sowing seeds with this method, you’ll need a roll of white paper towels or white toilet paper. Go with a good sturdy brand of paper. Thin flimsy brands will be difficult to work with.
In addition to the paper, you’ll need a small dish, some flour, a small dish of water, toothpicks, a pen, small resealable plastic bags, scissors, a clean dry cloth and a spray bottle of water. You’ll be sowing seeds, so keep your seeds handy in a small white dish. Use a white dish so you can easily see the seeds you’ll be working with.
Begin by mixing two parts flour with one part water to make a paste in your small dish. Set this aside while you make your seed tape.
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To make the seed tape for sowing seeds, roll out about a foot of the paper towel or toilet paper, laying it flat on your work surface. Paper towels can be cut into long, narrow strips about four inches wide, but toilet paper can be used as is. Now pour or scoop the flour paste into one of your resealable plastic bags, seal the bag, and cut one of the bottom corners off the bag to make a small hole in the bag. You’ll be making a squeeze bag, much like the bags pastry chefs use for applying decorative frosting to a cake.
Using your squeeze bag, dab small amounts of paste onto the paper towel or toilet paper, about an inch from the edge of the paper. The paste will dry quickly, so make just a few dabs of paste before moving on to the next step. Space the dabs as far apart as you want to be sowing seeds.
In the next step you will be actually sowing seeds. Dip a toothpick into your dish of water, then lightly dab the toothpick onto the dry cloth so it’s not dripping wet. Then dip the tip of the damp toothpick into your dish of tiny seeds. Your goal is to pick up as few of the seeds as possible with each dip. Transfer the seed to a dab of paste. Continue to dab, dip and stick the seeds until you have seeds in each dab of paste.
At this point, it is helpful to use your pen to mark the edge of the paper next to each dab of paste and seeds. Mist the paper very lightly with your spray bottle, then fold the unmarked half of the paper over the seeds to make a long strip. If necessary, mist the folded paper again to help it stay folded, then press it lightly with your fingers. The folded paper should be held together by the dabs of paste. Set the strip aside and allow it to dry completely while you continue working on the next section of seed tape.
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When you are done sowing seeds and each section of seed tape is dry, the homemade seed tape can be rolled up loosely and stored inside resealable plastic bags. Place each variety of seed in its own bag, and label each bag with the variety of seed inside. Labelling is very important! You don’t want to spend time sowing seeds for carrots in the spring, only to find after they sprout that you actually planted a row of petunias.
Now when spring rolls around and you’re ready to begin sowing seeds out in the garden, all you need to do is unroll your seed tape in the garden, cover it lightly with soil, water the row well and let nature do the rest. The seeds will germinate and grow through the paper just fine.
If you’re sowing seeds that will be planted in rows, you can apply the paste and seeds on the paper at the appropriate intervals. If you will be starting the seeds in flats or cells before transferring the seedlings into the garden, the homemade seed tape can be cut into sections, with one dab of paste and seeds in each section.
This method of sowing seeds is helpful when you’re trying to plant in straight rows, and you’ll also waste less seeds and won’t have to bother with thinning tiny seedlings in the garden.