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Homemade Seed Tape – How to Make Practically Free Seed Tape

Seed tape is the best and most efficient way to get a perfectly spaced garden this year. No more planting tiny seeds and then thinning them later!

Rolls of homemade seed tape secured by paper clips sitting on a wooden table

The other day, we had a gorgeous sunny break in the dreary weather, and I rushed outside as quickly as I could to do some gardening. I dug deep into the raised beds churning up the damp soil with my hands. Thanks to my fall prep lasagna bed layering, it was stunning; black, loamy, and so full of worms that I felt bad about using a pitchfork to turn it all over. I dug my fingers down into darkness and sighed a happy sigh.

To those of you still shoveling out from the winter, you couldn’t imagine being able to get in the garden in March. To those readers who don’t garden, perhaps you think you stumbled upon the start of the worst ever letter to Penthouse. But you gardeners out there…you get me. You know that centered and calm feeling you get when you’re finally digging in once again after a long winter of idle hands. Clean fingernails are overrated. Bring back the grime.

Last year in November, I hauled an immense amount of composted chicken manure mixed with straw out to the garden beds. Living my best and fanciest life, right? Then I put down a cardboard layer topped with more chicken crap, and then a nice thick blanket of straw to create the perfect lasagna bed for the winter. It is like a cozy beneficial microbial duvet.

The soil I found the other day was a gift I gave myself by doing all that work months ago. It was an investment in the future, and a testament to the belief that putting something in the ground will pay you dividends later in the year. What is gardening if not a seasonal leap of faith?

As I readied the beds for spring planting, I knew I would need to do some things differently this year. I have a terribly kept (because I tell you every season) gardening secret. I can grow stunning tomatoes in our maritime Northwest culture when others struggle. My pumpkins and blueberries could be the subject of a still life painting. But, the things that every gardener should know how to grow – greens, carrots, and beets – those elude me. It a likely combination of my lack of patience when planting small seeds, and my inability to appropriately thin plants if they miraculously start to grow. This year friends, this year I decided to try a new tactic with those delicious staples of a home garden. What was the miraculous change? I made myself some seed tape.

Seed tape is a tool that gardeners can use for making sure that seeds are planted appropriately. The seeds are already pre-spaced out, and easy to plant. Seed tape will never result in someone yelling “oh fuck it” after 10 seconds minutes of trying to sow itty bitty little carrot seeds. Seed tape is the way to go. It’s also expensive if purchased from seed catalogs and garden stores and limits the varieties you can plant. But it turns out that making it yourself is incredibly easy, and practically free. It is also the perfect project to force your kid into if they are home sick from school and you want to reinforce that staying home is not a fun all-day tv and ipad-fest. 🙂

toilet paper, scissors, seeds, a jar, measuring tape, and pen sitting on a wooden surface

Supply list for Homemade Seed Tape

  1. 2.5 tsp all-purpose flour
  2. 1 tsp water
  3. Scissors
  4. Toilet paper
  5. Marker
  6. Ball-point pin
  7. Chopstick
  8. Seeds! I mainly use Territorial or Baker Creek Seeds

How to Make Homemade Seed Tape – Step by Step

Measure your garden boxes or planting area to figure out how long you need the tape to be. Place a measuring tape on a flat surface, and unroll your toilet paper to the appropriate length. I recommend doing a bunch of these at once so you have a ready pile of paper to work with.

a roll of toilet paper and a measuring tape on a wooden tableFold the toilet paper down the middle the long way. If you were ever in my mom’s second-grade class at some point, you’d know this as folding it “hot dog” style. 🙂

toilet paper laid out on a wooden table

Look at the “thin to” information on your seed packet to find the appropriate placement for your seeds. When you plant them at a distance that doesn’t require thinning, later on, you get to save yourself an annoying step. Unfold the toilet paper, and working on one side of the line, use a marker to make a dot based on your spacing.

a boy marking lines on toilet paper for homemade seed tape

Mix flour and water into a paste. It shouldn’t be runny, but you also don’t want it to be so thick that it won’t come off the chopstick easily. Dip your chopstick in the paste and dab some of it on the dots on the toilet paper. It is easiest to do the whole roll at once.

a chop stick with paste on it marking spots on toilet paper for seed tape

Carefully place one seed on each paste dot.

a hand placing a seed in a dot of paste on toilet paper

Fold the toilet paper in half over the seeds, pressing lightly over each seed to “seal” the toilet paper sandwich. Using the ballpoint pen, label one end of the toilet paper with the name of the seed, and what kind of plant it will be. Unless you are a seed scientist, trying to figure out later if “Candysnax” is a carrot or pea variety, or a rap song might be a challenge in a few weeks.

a piece of completed homemade seed tape on a table

Sitting back to pout after securing the seeds is entirely optional but highly recommended.

Lay the seed tape where it will be undisturbed for a few hours to completely dry. Once dry, roll up and secure. I use paper clips.

rolls of homemade seed tape with colorful paperclips and writing

When it is time to plant, simply check the seed package for appropriate planting depth, dig a trench, place the unrolled seed tape in there, and cover with soil. Water just as you would normal in-ground seeds. Laugh while the crows that were watching you plant are unable to dig up the seeds the second you turn your back. Haha, I’m twice as smart as you are birds!

I’ll be posting updates on this method throughout the gardening season. And of course, I’ll bring you along for all the dirty, wet, and grimy details. Because after all, those Penthouse letters don’t write themselves.

Making this recipe or others?

Post a photo on my Facebook page, share it on Instagram, or save it to Pinterest with the tag #sustainablecooks. I can't wait to see your take on it!

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5 from 1 vote
Homemade Seed Tape - How to Make Practically Free Seed Tape
Prep Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
 

Make planting your garden a snap this year with this easy to make and simple to use seed tape.

Course: DIY
Calories: 1 kcal
Author: Sarah
Ingredients
  • 2.5 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 pair scissors
  • 1 roll toilet paper
  • 1 marker
  • 1 ball-point pen
  • 1 chopstick, or other fine pointed object
  • seeds
Instructions
  1. Measure your garden boxes or planting area to figure out how long you need the tape to be. Place a measuring tape on a flat surface, and unroll your toilet paper to the appropriate length. I recommend doing a bunch of these at once so you have a ready pile of paper to work with.

  2. Fold the toilet paper down the middle the long way. If you were in my mom's second-grade class at some point, you'd know this as folding it "hot dog" style.

  3. Look at the "thin to" information on your seed packet to find the appropriate placement for your seeds. If you plant them at a distance that doesn't require thinning, later on, you get to save yourself an annoying step. Unfold the toilet paper, and working on one side of the line, use a marker to make a dot based on your spacing. It is easiest to work in the middle of one side of the fold. See picture for this to make better sense.

  4. Mix flour and water into a paste. It shouldn't be runny, but you also don't want it so thick it won't come off the chopstick easily.

  5. Carefully place one seed on each paste dot.

  6. Fold the toilet paper over the seeds, pressing lightly over each seed to "seal" the toilet paper sandwich. Label one end of the toilet paper with the name of the plant, and what kind of plant it is. Unless you are a seed scientist, trying to figure out later if "Candysnax" is a carrot or pea variety, or a rap song might be a challenge in a few weeks.

  7. Lay it where it will be undisturbed for a few hours to completely dry. Once dry, roll up and secure. I used paper clips.

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Seed Tape - How to Make Practically Free Seed Tape
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Seed tape is the best and most efficient way to get a perfectly spaced garden this year. No more planting tiny seeds and then thinning them later!

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6 comments on “Homemade Seed Tape – How to Make Practically Free Seed Tape”

  1. Sarah! You are a genius! I was mesmerized, reading about the homemade seed tape! I am passing this method on to everyone I know! Love, love, love it!

  2. B R I L L I A N T ! !!!!!!!!!

  3. Great idea! I too am excited to plant a garden this year. 🙂 I need to go get materials to build about 10 raised beds for our new house!

    • 10 beds?? Awesome! How deep are you making them? I see little shallow ones all the time, and while I’m sure they work with some things, I like the versatility that our deep beds give me.

  4. Tip on carrots. When they are germinating they can’t dry out. I place a 2×4 over my carrots for 7 days after planting. Traps the moisture.