dancinglemons

DIY Seed Tape -- It worked!!!!!!!

dancinglemons
10 years ago

Hi folks,

Last year I read on GW and other places that I could make my own seed tape with cheapo toilet tissue and Elmer's white school glue. Well.......

First -- I thought the glue would go through the toilet tissue and stick to my table. Right! -BUT- I took care of this problem by putting the strips on top of plain old wax paper.

Second -- I thought the glue would not melt after I put the seeds in it and the seeds therefore would not sprout. Wrong!

Third -- I thought the birds and/or squirrels would pull the paper out of the dirt. Wrong!

I put the DIY seed tape in the ground last week with carrot seed and today I have about 90% germination!! Here is what I did.

I folded cheap 2-ply toilet tissue in 1/2 and cut it in 1/2 making 4 strips about 18 inches long (each strip). I laid each strip on a 2 inch wide strip of wax paper. I put a VERY small dot of white Elmer's school glue every 1 & 1/2 inch. I dropped 2-3 carrot seeds on each dot of glue. I left the entire thing until the glue was dry. Yes, the glue does stick to the waxed paper -but- a very slight tug and it comes apart.

From now until forever I will never purchase seed tape again. I made the tapes for the carrot variety I wanted to grow and for the lettuce variety I wanted to grow.

Just thought I would share this technique.

DL

Comments (56)

  • emmers_m
    10 years ago

    This may be a silly question, but did you put the side of the tape with the seeds down against the soil or facing up? (I guess it might not matter if the method can still succeed with the seed sandwiched between the paper)

    Also, when you say you had 90% germination and that you put 2-3 seeds per spot, are you saying that you'll still need to do a lot of thinning? Or did using that many seeds result in one plant per spot?

    Thanks so much for sharing! I've been considering trying it, but still had some questions (as you can no doubt see.)

  • gardenman101
    10 years ago

    I may try this for next year. My thoughts are using full sheets of paper towels and things like radishes and carrots and lettuce will get spaced 2" in each direction making it the ideal wide row, non thinning planting mat instead of tape. Any thoughts or has anyone tried this. I plant in wide rows and hate thinning so thats why im thinking seed mat instead of seed tape.

    Happy Gardening
    Mark

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  • aubade
    10 years ago

    Mark - I did something like that by accident. I presoaked my seeds, and some of them I didn't plant right away so I used my version of the baggie method to pre-sprout them.

    I put 1 type of seed on a plate, then cover it with a damp paper towel, then put another type on top of that, cover with a damp paper towel, etc. Then put the whole thing in a bag.

    One of the seed types I had like this was arugula - and they sprouted faster than I had the chance to plant them. The root hairs grew into the paper towel. Rather than try to pull them off of it, I thought, why not just plant the whole paper towel? So that's what I did, and sure enough, they're out there now a couple inches tall. Seemed to work fine.

  • dancinglemons
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Mark,

    You are a GE-nius!! I never thought of the "square inch" seed mat idea. I am going to use it this year for my second planting of carrots and for my Romaine this fall. I will have to experiment with paper towel brands that are really cheap and flimsy so that they literally disintegrate when soaking wet under dirt/potting mix. I am thinking the 'dollar' store stuff will probably work great and if it is 2-ply I will just peel it so I have 1-ply. This will also be sooooooooooo much easier than cutting all those little strips of toilet tissue!!

    DL

  • ezzirah011
    10 years ago

    that sound you hear is me running out the door for the elmers school glue! thanks I am defiantly trying this for the fall garden..

  • socks
    10 years ago

    Maybe I missed this, but then you dig a shallow trench and lay the "seed tape" in the trench and cover it with soil?

  • rachel597
    10 years ago

    Granny, fellow GardenWeb member, has a great tutorial for seed mats on her blog:

    Annie's Kitchen Garden

  • bluebirdie
    10 years ago

    Thanks to DL and everyone on this forum for sharing. I've read about this but am now convinced after reading all the encouraging success stories. I've been struggling with some tiny yet expensive seeds like holy basil and culantro. Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow morning ? :-)

  • gardenman101
    10 years ago

    Socks,
    With the use of seed tapes yes you make a shallow furrow and put the seed tape in and cover with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil depending on what type of seed. In the case of the proposed seed mat you just lay flat on ground wet it down then cover with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil. The only reason I mentioed the seed mats is I like to plant in wide rows instead of single rows. Makes it much easier.

    Mark

  • gardenman101
    10 years ago

    rachel597,
    Thanks for Annies blog post. She has a very informative tutorial on making them. BTW she has one of the cleanest, neatest gardens ive ever seen, the plants planted with the mats look great.

    Happy Gardening
    Mark

  • dancinglemons
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    rachel597,

    Thanks for that link to Annie's Garden. Learned something new - magic marker dots!! This will make it even easier!

    DL

  • love2garden-nc
    7 years ago

    I tried the seed tapes with a single sheet of newspaper cut into strips and flour/water glue but mine didn't germinate at all. I don't think I kept them wet enough. I also noticed Annie said she put a board over hers--is that to keep it moist? After reading this thread I wonder if the newspaper is too thick. Maybe a thin papertowel would disintegrate quicker/easier. Any thoughts?

  • donna_in_sask
    7 years ago

    ^ I wouldn't use anything other than paper towel or toilet paper - these are made to break down quickly (especially the tp). Try that next year, and make sure you use fresh seed.

  • nancyjane_gardener
    7 years ago

    Bluebirdie, where did you find culantro seed???? I'm too hot for cilantro (Sonoma County) as I'm sure you are in the East Bay.
    A farmer friend has been looking for it also! Nancy

  • luke_oh
    7 years ago

    I read about this idea a few years ago and thought that it was one of the best ideas i've heard of. I havn't tried it yet, but glad to hear that it worked for you all. I have sown the pelletized seed from Johnny's Seeds that might be a good addition to this method. I love these pelletized seeds. I hate to thin out,too, seems like a waste of of seeds and my back. Luke

  • Edymnion
    7 years ago

    Cool, I'll definitely have to give this a try next year, thanks.

  • les1238
    7 years ago

    I LOVE the seed mat idea. Has anybody tried institutional paper towels? They're a little slick and hard, but that would actually make them easier to work with. Also, I think they're made of unbleached paper, which is probably better for the garden.

  • joegardenpa
    7 years ago

    Great idea with the paper towels. I have one of my raised beds set up as a "square foot garden" The paper towels should work great, lay one in each box. Going to try that for sure this year, especially for the carrots!

  • Wipa4246
    6 years ago

    I am going to do this tonight because I hate thinning carrots!!!!

  • seysonn
    6 years ago

    I don't quite understand the advantage of this method:
    INSTEAD OF ALL THE PREPARATIONS AND METICULOUSLY DROPPING GLUE ON THE TAPE, THEN DROPPING SEED INTO THE GLUE ... WRAPPING IT, FOLDING IT , UNFOLDING IT, PUTTING ON THE BED ..
    why can't just simply drop the seeds in the ground , instead ? This will be just a ONE STEP work.

    Maybe, it is harder to seed the seeds ?!. Then spread the same paper, newspaper strips onto the bed, mist it (So seeds will stick !) ....

    I have a scientific method to sow small seeds:

    -- get a half a gallon fine garden soil(Or seed starter or potting soil.
    --Pour it on a piece of plastic or a big container,.
    -- Dump your seeds on it.
    ----start mixing it with your hands,real good
    -- then pour that into a container(like a gallon plastic ice cream pail). Mix little more

    Now, if you have done a fair job of mixing, The seeds are normally distributed in the soil.
    -- now take a handful and scatter it all over the bed.(first pass) . Take one more handful, scatter all over(second pass) ... continue until you run out of the soil-seed mixture.
    -- cover it(with another extra bucket of soil that you have(potting mixt, garden soil, peat moss)

    This method will give a statistical random normal distribution of the seeds. There will small probability of having some seeds too close or an area where seeds are farther apart. But better than 85% of the seeds wil be almost evenly distributed.

  • MisterK
    6 years ago

    Sevsonn nailed it, the purpose of seed tape is to save time. Making the seed tapes at home is ok when growing small quantities but very time consuming for any other purpose.

    I grow in 10 foot long sections of pvc rain gutters. Ill just take a pen and punch small holes in the promix in a zig zag pattern at 1inch distance from one another. then drops a few seeds in each holes. I can better understand for things that must be thinned, ex carrotts, but the hassle of making the seed tapes isnt worth it for me.

    Ive given up growing greens, strawberries, beans and so on in the ground for many reasons. My gutters are mounted in a "A" frame type of structure made out of wood, 4 gutters on each side. I don't ever have to bend down anymore. I have ZERO weeding to do, ever, since the gutter channels are full of my greens, plus theyre off the ground, which helps massively! My lettuces and greens are perfectly clean and dont need washing because theyre always perfectly clean being off the ground, no bug, rabbit, groundhog, etc damage. Easy to harvest, grab a bunch (it grows thick) cut at the base and thats it! I grow in promix and use pelletized organic chicken compost as fertilizer.

    I sell the food i grow so all these benefits are very important to me as they translate into significant cost savings. My product also keep longer because it needs no washing before delivery to the client. Clean off the plants also means i dont need labor to wash, sort, dry...we go straight to packaging., I have no losses due to animal or bugs, and by that i mean really really close to zero. No competition from weeds, perfect ventilation, etc etc

    Seed tape doesnt work for me because i cant create the exact density i want. Its also more expensive. Id probably try to adapt it to save some time if it was the same price. But its not.

    Ive posted pictures of my vertical grows here before but since im in the ipad i cant post anything, however if you want to see the pictures of this year and the new vertical system and crops, theyre at

    http://www.instagram.com/ingeniusfarms

    Cheers and dont hesitate if you have questions, ive learned quite a bit here myself :)

    Khaled

    Here is a link that might be useful: In.Genius Farms crops of 2013

  • terrene
    6 years ago

    How interesting that you grow in gutters, Khaled. How do you water the plants in the gutters? Do you have drainage holes? Do you use 100% organic fertilizer?

    The seed tapes are interesting ideas too.

  • nugrdnnut
    6 years ago

    seysonn,

    Although you make valid points as why not to make/use seed tape, others may do it to pass time through the dead of winter... and it may be easier on them than thinning too closely sowed seedlings.

    As an example, my dad (retired)had a handful of cactus seeds... tiny little things. He decided to count them... over 5000. He wasn't sure that he counted too accurately, so he counted them again.

    Some people just need something to do to pass the time.

    And to each their own.

    Regards,
    Tom

  • MisterK
    6 years ago

    @terrenne: ita a very simple system really, but i settled on it after trialing many setup. I really enjoy keeping it simple. Yes i grow 100% organic. Actually its beyong organic because i spray anything, not even organic pesticides herbicides or others. Simple pelletized and sterilized chicken compost, almost odorless so i also use it indoors. The formulation probably isnt perfect but ita a good base. I grow lettuce, onion, beans, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries etc with only that as fertilizer and it works great.

    For drainage, ive drilled holes at the bottom of the gutter channels ever half foot or so, but again thats approximate and could be more or less. I watered with a water hose this year beacuse i was too stupid to buy some soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Yields were great, but with auto watering they will be triple that.

    Trust me, once you do this, youll never go back. The method can be adapted (larger gutters, distance between gutter levels, growing medium etc etc etc) but the core variables that make it great are the same.

    Im in the process of installing gutters against the walls in my basement. Im putting them up against the wall holding with "U" type brackets im making out if wood. Im setting this 10X10 room with 9' high ceilings. 9 gutters fit on each wall, times 4 walls, thats 36 gutters, or 360 linear feet of crops, in a 100 square foot room! And im using nothing but the walls, which makes working in that room a breeze! Each 10 foot gutter is getting 2X 4 foot long 32w T8 lighting.

    Another benefit of the gutters is that they are perfect for the width of those fluorescents, so light distribution is more even. 64 watts per gutters times 36 equals a little over 2300w. We have Ok energy rates here in Quebec, so using 50kw per day costs me a little under 100$ per month. Thats 3200 watts per day running 16 hours. Thats 51 gutter sections, or 510 feet of crops. Best is, excess heat is redirected to heat the house.

    Khaled

    Khaled

  • dirtguy50 SW MO z6a
    6 years ago

    Could you make the seed tapes with TP and store in the frig? I keep my seed packs in the frig with one of the oxygen absorber packets in the container. Could the same thing work for storing the seed tapes. Cold winter nights can be boring. lol

  • terrene
    6 years ago

    I've been storing my seeds in a produce drawer of the fridge for over 25 years, and they maintain their viability for a long time. I don't see why that wouldn't work with seed tapes, as long as they are completely dry.

    Khaled, I looked through your pictures and your plants look great. How interesting you are doing the gutters inside as well. What are you going to do about drainage inside? I assume that outside the extra water just drains out the holes. Also, with that many plants growing inside, perhaps excess humidity will be a problem. How will you ventilate?

    Curious minds...

  • seysonn
    6 years ago

    seysonn,

    Although you make valid points as why not to make/use seed tape, others may do it to pass time through the dead of winter... and it may be easier on them than thinning too closely sowed seedlings.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    nugdnnut
    That is a good point . I understand. I just expressed my opinion. Thats all. Gardening should be fun and not stringent rules as how to do it.

    Happy Gardening !

  • greenmulberry
    6 years ago

    So how long do seed tapes keep? If I could make them now, when I have the time, that would be a great winter activity to do with my toddler

  • dirtguy50 SW MO z6a
    6 years ago

    Good question greenmulberry. I was a little concerned that this would introduce some moisture to the seeds for a short period of time. Hope more folks chime in.

  • greenmulberry
    6 years ago

    Well I am going to try it. I will set the tapes in a room with the dehumidifier to get them dry quickly again. A google search shows people do make them quite well ahead of time, although I have yet to see any results posted.

    I really have limited time in the spring for anything, I have a couple other hobbies that pick up in spring, plus the general yard work that pops up. Spring gardening is a frenzy of getting an occasional 45 minutes to run out and jam some things in the ground. If I could lay out seed tapes and fling some soil over them and set up a sprinkler, that would be awesome.

    Plus, winter is so dreary. It is dark when I get home from work. Sitting in front of the fire with a bunch of seeds and toilet paper making seed tapes with my daughter is just what I need right now.

  • dirtguy50 SW MO z6a
    6 years ago

    greenmulberry, I think I will do the same thing. Grandkids love projects so over Thanksgiving would be a fun thing to do with them. We have plenty of seeds and it would be a great side by side experiment come springtime. Christmas is family canning of broths and gathering around the table to make a gazillion tamalas. Well, maybe not quite that many. lol

  • lovesblooms
    6 years ago

    I love the seed mat idea to try this winter, too, for a larger area along a fence near the veggie garden. I keep finding myself researching and daydreaming about this coming season, so this will give me something to actually do right now.

    ...after garden cleanup, I mean. And raking. And mulching...

  • Charlie
    6 years ago

    From reading these posts, it would seem to me that there is an additional reason to use seed tapes/mats. If you are a square-foot gardener as I am, it should be a simple process to make a square-foot seed mat of the correct size to plant each square in your garden. In this way you ensure that plant spacing is correct. If you plant smaller, earlier developing plants, such as radishes, around the outer square and a larger, later developing plant in the center, such as tomato or egg plant, you leave the center of the towel open and transplant your large plant into that spot.

  • susanzone5 (NY)
    6 years ago

    Do not use pvc for food! It leaches poisonous chemicals. Pvc (polyvinyl chloride) pipe is used for wastewater exiting a house, never for water entering a house, and shouldn't be used in gardening. Too much cancer in this country already.

  • MisterK
    6 years ago

    Simply line the gutters with a food grade plastic of some sort then :)

  • Deeby
    6 years ago

    What a great idea-something fun and educational for the kids. Love it !
    I love seeing that schools have little vegetable gardens now. That would never have happened when I was in school in the early 1960's.

  • terrene
    6 years ago

    The seed tape or seed squares sound like a great project to do with kids or to pass the time during the dreary days of winter. I enjoy fooling around with seeds and doing a little winter-sowing during the winter. It's also fun to browse seed sites and buy a few packets of seeds, although I already have too many seeds, lol.

    Susanzone5, do you think aluminum gutters would be a better choice?

  • runswithscissors
    6 years ago

    Since I'm an avid seed-tape-fan I just have to add my two cents worth. I like them for carrots and onions mostly because I'm a little older and the whole bending over and holding my hand inches from my nose to pick up one or two seeds to put in holes kills me after about 3 minutes. During the winter I like to sit at the kitchen table and "garden" with my seeds and tp. Here's what I learned:

    -two seeds to every dot. It tried to skimp once, and had bare spots because the one seed didn't sprout.

    - last year I tried to mix things up, companion-garden style. Onion, then carrot, then radish, parsnip, and so on. I didn't like the results because everything grows on a different time scale. I'm going back to making tapes of just one item per tape.

    -2 ply tp didn't work as well as one-ply because it seemed to sap the moisture away from the seed too much instead of disintegrating.

    - wind will snatch the tapes right out of your hand and send all the little seeds flying. I make my tapes only the length of my two outstretched arms so they are more manageable (and easier to unfold without flicking seeds off).

    - I watered down glue by adding 1/4 water per bottle. Also, the no-name, cheapo brands work better for this purpose because it lets go of the seed better once it's wet. Elmer's likes to hold on for dear life.

    -permanent marker goes right thru the paper, so if you're working on a counter or kitchen table, get ready to scrub dots...and do it quick or else they will be there forever.
    Gel pens work best for me.

    - the soil covering the tapes can only be a light, light covering or the seed can't get out. If a tiny part of paper is exposed, it just dries out and sucks away the moisture from the seed too. I combat this by sprinkling a very light layer of straw down the rows. It doesn't have to be a complete mat, I've found, just a very light sprinkling is all it takes.

  • bonnieforbez
    6 years ago

    Great doing .How long the Quick fix glue holds.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Quick fix glue

  • T Richards
    4 years ago

    Hi guys, I know this is an old post but can't find the answers anywhere else (including on http://annieskitchengarden.blogspot.com/2009/09/september-22-2009-home-made-seed-mat.html, although I think in the photo the seeds are facing up). I have just made seed tape for the first time, used strips of unbleached paper towel and flour/water paste. What is the consensus on whether to "plant" the seed tape with seeds facing up, or seeds facing down? I know if you put it between two plys of toilet paper this question is moot, but I'm about to plant my seed tape and wondered if anyone has had better/worse results either way. Thanks :)

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)
    4 years ago

    My guess is that paper towel is too sturdy. Not clear that the plant (stem or roots) will be able to go through it after it's been in the ground for a few days. If I bury paper towel, I'll be able to dig it up after a few weeks and find it largely still in one piece. If I soak paper towel, it still retains a lot of strength (unlike TP). I'm actually surprised that the OP was using double-ply TP. I would have thought that SP would be smarter. Now, I say this with absolutely no experience with seed tape, but loads of experience with germinating seeds, and playing with wet paper. People with experience are welcome to correct me.

  • T Richards
    4 years ago

    Hmm - I did quite a bit of research online and quite a few people suggested paper towels. I'll see if this set grows at all - will do the next set with toilet paper and compare. It makes sense that paper towels are pretty sturdy, I guessed (hoped?) that they would start to break down by the time the roots broke through. Will update once I have a comparison of paper towel vs. toilet paper.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)
    4 years ago

    Yes, I've seen paper towels sometimes recommended, but I'm still a bit skeptical. "By the time the roots break through" is 3-4 days. Paper towel just doesn't break down that fast. But maybe roots can thread their way through the fibers? I don't know.

  • nugrdnnut
    4 years ago

    paper towel is fine... I do all my beets on it as we love spicy pickled beets and plant a lot of them. Also use it for spinach, lettuce, radish, carrots, etc.


    regards, tom

  • T Richards
    4 years ago

    Paper towel seed tape update - 3 days after planting, all radishes have sprouted through the soil, lettuce seed tape has sprouted (1/2 the tapes). Carrots haven't come up yet but I'm optimistic.

  • pheebz87
    3 years ago

    Hello everyone, thanks for a fascinating feed! As well as being a keen gardener I am keen to experiment on a new idea I've had - to create biodegradable jewellery with seeds inside (so basically your jewellery turns into flowers). I was having a Google around this topic and your thread was really interesting - so does setting your carrot seed (or whatever kind of seed - wildflower for me!) in glue not compromise the growing of the seed? I am still working on technicalities...but this was my first query, I thought maybe the glue would impede the seeds' growth - does it not? Thanks for any answers!

  • digdirt2
    3 years ago

    It depends on the type of glue used and the amount used. With seed tapes you use a water soluble glue and only very minimal amounts. I don't know if either restriction would work for your purpose.

    Dave

  • pheebz87
    3 years ago

    ah i see...thank you for your comment Dave! Sigh, I thought so...will have to come up with a better medium I think...

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    It's interesting, that we use white glue, or Elmers or school glue for this. I understand that's mostly polyvinyl acetate. It works. Now, formally, polyvinyl acetate is NOT soluble in water. It's actually what latex in latex paint is made from. That doesn't quite make sense. Maybe plain old white glue has enough extra stuff in it to render it water soluble? Maybe white glue is just a suspension of PVA in water? Anyone understand that?

    Of course, you could just make a paste of cornstarch or flour and use that.

  • new_to_co__7700_feet
    3 years ago

    All sounds great. Question: Do you lay the tape flat? Is the tape folded over with the seed inside? Do the roots go through the lower layer to get to soil, or do they fan out growing between the two layers? Does this slow them down if they are laying on top of a paper layer? How about the shout going up. If there is a paper layer over the top of the seed, can the new shout push up through this layer of paper, or do they go sideways looking for a chance to go up freely? As they push up do they push the paper up on top of the shout? It seems that if the seeds are between two layers of paper, it would change their growth shape.