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Learning to Grow: How to make seed tape

Published: Friday, April 18, 2014 4:41 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, April 18, 2014 4:45 p.m. CST
(Photo provided)
Seeds that work well for seed tapes are fine seeds, such as those of beets, carrots, radishes, kale, lettuce and chard.

It appears winter is hanging on a bit longer as I look at snow covering my crocuses and tulips. Since I am anxious to do anything gardening, and I’m unable to work snow-covered soil, I decided to make my own seed tapes. When the soil is ready, so am I.

Seeds that work well for seed tapes are fine seeds such as those of beets, carrots, radishes, kale, lettuce and chard.

The items needed include seeds, single or double ply toilet paper, toilet paper roll, water-soluble glue, ruler and marker.

Measure out a length of toilet paper – 4 feet is a good length.  Cut in half lengthwise.  Mark seed spacing according to directions on seed packet. Use a marker to mark each spot for a seed. Put a dot of glue on each mark and using a tweezers or your finger, drop the seed into place. At the end of each tape, place a label indicating seed variety and planting depth.

Once you have completed adding seeds to the tape, allow the glue to dry completely. Once dry, roll the seed tape onto the toilet paper roll or gently fold and place in an envelope. Store in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant.

Prepare the bed by adding some compost and gently tilling the top 6 inches to 9 inches of soil. Adding compost each year will break down the clay so prevalent in our Midwest soil.

To plant, lay the seed tape on the surface of soil. Gently cover with the proper amount of soil or compost. Gently pat the soil so there is good contact between the seed and soil. Water using a fine nozzle to avoid washing away the soil from the seed tape. A trick to keep the soil moist is to cover with an old board. Once the seeds begin to sprout, remove the board.

Playing with seeds and getting ready for planting at least feels a little bit like gardening – even if it is indoors.

I’m ready for planting, let’s get this party started!

• Vicki Hagstotz is a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener for Kane County. Call the extension office at 630-584-6166 for more information.

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