Some garden seeds are very hard to sow because they are so tiny. Once in the soil, the rain often washes them away. To solve this, try making homemade seed tapes to be sure the seeds grow right where you want them.
For more, I have listed more tips and tricks for handling tiny seeds here.
How to Make Seed Tapes
Wait! Where did my seeds go? I just planted them.
Some seeds are just so tiny that, if you don’t lose them while sowing, you lose them afterwards due to wind or rain. This tutorial shows you a really simple way to make seed tapes. Seed tapes provide a way to temporarily attach little seeds (like carrot seeds) to a surface that holds them in place while you plant them.
Because they’re on a tape (or length of toilet paper, really), you can also control how far apart they are planted. The entire thing is placed in the garden. The toilet paper will disintegrate and the seeds will sprout right where you planted them.
There are more seed starting tips for beginners here if you are new to this.
When seeds are tiny and hard to manage and you don’t want to plant a lot just to have to thin them out later, I say Glue ’em down! It just takes a tiny dab.
I first tried making carrot seed tapes last year and my germination rates were excellent.
I grew several different varieties and I didn’t have to do any seedling thinning. I’m a thinning klutz so I prefer to sow my seeds carefully instead. Plus there is less waste this way.
And, as mentioned, this method will work for any fine seeds.
I make my seed tapes during the winter when I’m itching for outdoor gardening season so they’re ready to go in spring.
- Toilet paper or paper towel
- Paint brush or pencil
- Glue / paste made from 1 teaspoon baking flour and a bit of water
- Measuring tape
- The flour and water glue should be thick enough to sit on the end of your brush or pencil without dripping. You need only about a teaspoon of flour to glue several tapes.
- My raised beds are 4×8′ so I make my seed tapes in 2′ lengths. This way I can plant them side by side or in a row the whole width of the bed.
- Tear off the length of toilet paper you want and write the name of the seed type on it.
- Decide how close together you want to place the seeds based on the spacing recommendations on your seed packets. I place about 50 carrot seeds on a 5″ x 4′ length.
- Pour the number of seeds you’ll be using on a clean plate and spread them apart so they’re easy to pick up one at a time.
- Dab the brush in the glue and then pick up a seed with it.
Dab the seed onto the toilet paper and let the glue settle around it. Use your finger to help if you need to.
- When you’re done, leave the whole thing to dry. The seeds will stay in place.
- If you have leftover seeds that you want to use up, you can make a few T.P. seed balls. Take smaller sections of toilet paper, write the name of the seeds on them, and glue on more seeds. I use the mini seed tapes to add leaf lettuce patches to gaps in my flower beds.
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Planting The Seed Tape
- To plant the tape, prepare your growing area as usual and lay the tape down.
- Cover it with the appropriate depth of soil and water as usual.
- The toilet paper gradually dissolves and the seeds take root. I got a stellar crop this way last year. I also have extremely sandy soil which pleases carrots immensely.
- As mentioned, this works well with other seeds too, not just carrots.
TIP: The optimum soil temperature for sowing carrots seeds is 80°F (26°C). You can check with a kitchen thermometer like this one.
This lists the recommended soil sowing temperatures for popular vegetables.
If you would like help with your seed sowing schedule (indoors and outdoors), see my sowing plan here.
Storing Seed Tapes
- If you’re not ready to plant them yet, just leave the seed tapes flat or carefully folded, stacking one on top of the next. As long as they don’t get wet or fall off, they should be fine until you’re ready to use them.
- Seeds do best in cool, dry storage, just above freezing, but room temperature is fine for a few months. See the tips here for optimum seed storage in your home.
- If they start to germinate in storage, contact the authorities immediately. (Just checking if anyone is reading this. They won’t germinate in storage unless it’s warm and the seeds get damp for an extended period of time.)
Seed Tape Benefits
- Use just the number of seeds you want to plant, without having to thin them out.
- Save on the cost of seeds. If you’re like me and like to try a wide variety of seeds but don’t have a garden buddy nearby to share shipping costs and packets with, exact planting with seed tapes is a frugal alternative.
- Making seed tapes is a bit slow but surprisingly relaxing. Go figure.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
How to Make Seed Tapes for Easier Sowing
Supplies & Materials
- 1 pack Seeds
- Create glue (paste) by adding a very small amount of water to flour. Paste should be thick, not watery.
- Tear off a length of toilet paper equal to match the length of the row in your garden.
- Write name of seeds and seed company on one end of toilet paper.
- Read seed packet for recommended spacing between seeds. Then mark toilet paper with marker indicating each spot you will attach a seed.
- Spread desired number of seeds out on a plate.
- Dab fine paint brush tip into glue, then dab to pick up a seed with it, and affix to toilet paper where you have marked seed locations.
- When done, allow everything to dry thoroughly, then gently fold up, leaving seed name visible, and keep in cool, dry location until sowing time.
- To sow seed tape, place in desired spot in garden and cover with soil amount listed on seed packet. Add a plant tag listing seed name and sowing date. Water as needed. Toilet paper will gradually dissolve and disintegrate.