Do you have trouble starting small seeded crops like lettuce, turnips, or cabbage in the garden? Does the seed end up blowing away in the wind or washing away after watering? Do you dread going back to thin out plants later?
If you answered “yes” to several of those questions, don’t worry, there is an easier solution called seed tape! Seed tape makes it easy for gardeners to grow crops from tiny seeds. With seed tape, gardeners apply seed to tape and then plant the entire seed tape outdoors in the garden. Gardeners don’t have to worry about seeds floating away and there is no need to thin out plants. An added bonus is the seed tape disintegrates overtime and returns nutrients to the soil.
Seed tape is available commercially through garden supply companies, however avid gardeners can make their own seed tape at home inexpensively! Making seed tape at home requires a few basic items and materials collected from around the home. Read here to find out how to make do-it-yourself (DIY) seed tape at home using this easy step- by- step photo guide.
Step 1: Gather up all supplies needed to make the seed tape. Grab a roll of toilet paper, make glue or use all-purpose glue, toothpick, garden seed packets, clear ruler, and a black permanent marker.
Step 2: Next, unroll the toilet paper from the roll and lay out on a flat even surface. Cut the toilet paper in half using a pair of scissors. The toilet paper serves as the “tape” portion of the seed tape project.
Step 3: Lay the seed tape on a flat surface and mark the correct plant spacing according to the crop being grown. Refer to the back of the seed packet to see how far apart to space between the seeds. Measure the plant distance using a ruler and mark the spot on the seed tape with the black permanent marker. If making multiple seed tapes for different crops, it is a good idea to label the seed tape with the crop name and the variety in the top right hand corner using an ink pen.
Step 4: Make the glue to adhere the seed to the tape. Mix 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of water together in a small mixing bowl until a thick paste forms. If needed, add additional water to make a glue type consistency. All-purpose glue also works good for seed tape.
Step 5: Before starting this step, empty the contents of the seed packet on a white plate or white piece of paper. This step makes it easy for gardeners to see the seed and pick it up to go on the seed tape.
Dip the end of a toothpick into the glue and place a small dot on the seed tape. Then, take the toothpick and pick up a seed to place on top of the freshly applied glue. Continue this process until all the seed tape is filled. Allow the glue to dry and roll the tape on the toilet paper roll. Store it in the refrigerator until environmental conditions are ready for planting.
Step 6: When conditions are favorable, make a seed bed for planting. Place the seed tape in the planting row making sure to plant at the correct depth. Refer to the back of the seed packet for the correct planting depth. Lightly cover the seed tape with soil and water it in. Wait and watch for the seeds to germinate and come up in a perfectly straight row!
To watch this process from start to finish, click on the picture above or Click Here to view this how to video for making DIY seed tape from our Warren County Agriculture YouTube channel.
Kristin G. Hildabrand, Horticulture Extension Agent for Warren County
As the temperature starts to cool and the risk of frost becomes of concern, understand that summer vegetables are ending for the season. Don’t stop with summer vegetables! Gardening in the fall provides a new variety of vegetables such as fresh broccoli, greens, carrots, and radishes for the home gardener to enjoy!
How do you know when summer garden vegetables have finished producing for the year? Crops will begin to droop and will no longer produce fruit. Once this occurs, pull out the last of the summer crops. If diseased plants have been an issue, make sure to remove all plant material from the garden and dispose of them properly in the trash. Next, till up the ground about six to eight inches deep to prepare the ground for planting.
Before planting a fall vegetable garden, make sure to have the soil tested. Contact your local agriculture or horticulture extension agent to learn the correct procedure on how to collect a soil sample from the home vegetable garden. Collect the soil sample and take it to the extension office and expect to receive recommendations in one to two weeks. The soil testing report gives an overall picture of what the soil needs for optimum plant growth. August is a good time to have the soil tested, so gardeners have plenty of time to apply fertilizer before planting.
What to plant? When thinking about fall gardens, think green! Greens are great vegetables to grow when it starts to get cool. They even taste sweeter when picked after a frost. Some greens to plant are mustard greens, turnip greens, lettuce and spinach. Another great group of vegetables to grow are root vegetables. Carrots, radishes, and turnips grow well in the cooler months and give a great variety to the greens. So don’t stop now, get those seeds or small transplants planted and watch them grow!
For more information about fall gardening crops, check out the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service publication for Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky ID-128, http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf.
Written by: Katherine Ullery, Warren County Extension Master Gardener Intern