I’ve had a couple of interesting questions come in from newsletter subscriber Sheila in New Zealand about home made seed tapes and growing on the other side of the planet.
Her first question was if I had backdated copies of the newsletter available since the months are basically reversed in the southern hemisphere.
Since the newsletters are covering things like ‘new on the site’ and issues of the day, they’re really not that valuable six months on. However, if you’re looking for growing tips and help on a monthly basis then the Month by Month Growing Guide is the place to visit. Better still, buy a copy of my book! (Hey – I’ve got to try.)
Home Made Seed Tapes
Her next question was this:
What is new here (in New Zealand) this spring is seed on tapes, already spaced apart so less thinning later. They cost us about $1 per metre or 50 pence to you.
Have you found a way seed tapes can be “home made”? Appears to be a simple idea but would toilet paper or kitchen paper work? I have been told the bleach in them could affect the seeds.
Cut the paper into 1 inch strips. Mist with water, place seeds on paper and mist again before laying 2nd paper on top. Makes planting much easier on both knees and hands. What do you think? Sheila
I’ve had tomato seeds sent to me in the past that were stuck onto ordinary paper with Sellotape (clear adhesive tape) and I sowed these with the sticky tape still on and they came up fine. The paper just rotted away. I’ve also used damp kitchen paper when chitting seeds and not had any problem so my conclusion is that any residual bleach that may be left in the paper from the manufacturing process is not going to make a difference.
There are a couple of problems I can foresee with making your own seed tape though. I’ve never used seed tapes myself but I’m sure the seed merchants will have researched and overcome them.
First, we need a medium that is strong enough to hold together yet not stop the seeds from growing. I think a long strip of 1″ wide toilet roll paper is going to be a bit weak and difficult to handle.
The next problem is germination. The idea of the seed tape is to sow at the correct spacing and avoid thinning out and thereby wasting seeds. This certainly appeals to my sense of frugality.
However not all the seeds in a packet will germinate. There’s all sorts of factors that affect germination rates, storage and age of the seed being the most obvious along with the species. Plants producing huge amounts of seeds often have lower germination rates than those just producing a few.
So if we space our seeds perfectly and only 70% actually germinate, we’re going to end up with gaps in the row.
I don’t really find sowing and thinning a chore, in fact the carrot thinnings are a definite bonus so I don’t think I’ll be buying seed tape and making my own seems like more work than doing it the traditional way.
One method of sowing seeds thinly I tried many years ago was to mix the seeds with non-fungicidal wallpaper paste and use an icing bag to sow them. It did work but was more fuss than hand sowing and you still had to thin.