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Seed Tape: What Is It and How to Make Your Own?

Man applying seed tape in a raised vegetable bed.

Seed tape is an easy and practical way of preparing long, straight rows in the garden. Photo:National Garden Bureau

Many gardeners find seed tape very practical. It’s thin biodegradable paper tape on which vegetable or flower seeds have been glued, already at the recommended spacing for the future development of the plant.

Roll of commercial seed tape partially unrolled, spots where the seeds are can be seen.
A roll of commercial seed tape. Photo: Photo:National Garden Bureau

At sowing time, simply a trace a furrow at the desired depth (it will vary depending on the crop), place the tape in the furrow, cutting to length, then cover it with soil and water. The seedlings will pop up just where you want them to.

Pack of seeds of Mesclu salad containing seed tape. A photo of the curled tape is visible on the back.
Seed tape is sold in seed packets much like free seed, but usually the tape is illustrated on the packet or the terms Seed Tape are printed there. Photo: McKenzie Seed

Here are some of the advantages of seed tape:

  1. Even seed spacing prevents sowing too densely, especially with crops like lettuce, greens and root vegetables. It also eliminates the need for thinning the young seedlings.
  2. Even though seed tape is lightweight, it still prevents birds from eating freshly sown seeds
  3. Once seed tape is in soil, it will resist wind, rain and even erosion, so your neatly spaced and sown rows won’t likely be ruined during weather events.
  4. Seed tape is biodegradable and has no damaging impact on garden ecosystems.
  5. For gardeners experiencing arthritis or other mobility issues, a seed tape is a quick and easy way to sow tiny seeds that are otherwise very difficult to manipulate.

The problem, though, is that seed tapes costs quite a bit more than loose seed. But not if you make your own seed tape!

Making Your Own Seed Tap

Set up for seed tape manufacture: toilet paper, home-made glue, brush, seed packs.
To produce your own seed tape, you only seeds, scissors, toilet paper, a pencil or pen, ruler and some homemade blue. Photo: gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu

Make your seed tape in advance, perhaps on a rainy day. If you have kids at home, make it a family project.

You’ll need a length of toilet paper as long as the rows in your garden and the seeds you intend to sow outdoors in the summer.

Cut the toilet paper lengthwise into 1 to 2 inch (2.5 to 5 cm) strips. If it’s 2-ply paper, separate int into two separate sheets: you’ll only want one ply for this technique.

With a pencil and a ruler, mark the future location of the seeds (3 inches/7.5 cm for beets, 2 inches/5 cm for carrots, etc.) on the paper. You’ll find the recommended spacing for each variety on its seed packet.

Now mix together a spoonful of flour and an equal quantity of water to make biodegradable glue. With a coffee stirrer, small brush or a cotton swab, apply a drop of glue to each pencil mark and place a seed on it. Now just fold the toilet paper in half and let dry.

You now have home-made seed tape you can use in this year’s vegetable or flower garden!

Article based on one published on this blog on May 14, 2016.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

5 comments on “Seed Tape: What Is It and How to Make Your Own?

  1. Hopefully, I am still a few more years from limited mobility. I can pass on this one for now. My niece made some of those seeded post cards with her Girl Scouts. I thought that was a nice project for them.

  2. Christine Lemieux

    I have used seed tape a couple of times as it is painstaking sowing carrots. This is a great idea, thank you!

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