Garden Tip: Make Your Own Seed Tape

Soon, we Michigan gardeners will be stuck indoors, staring forlornly out at our snow or frost-covered gardens. While I’m not in a hurry for that, I know that there are several ways I can keep myself busy, and get my garden off to a good start next spring. One of those ways is to make seed tape. An afternoon or two of work during the winter, and I’ll have perfect, evenly-spaced seeds ready to plant once the time is right.

Supplies:

* Newspaper (black and white, plain newspaper pages) cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch strips, paper towel, or toilet paper
* Flour
* Water
* Seeds
* Ruler

How To Make Seed Tape

1. Make a paste out of flour and water. Start with 1/4 cup of flour, and add water until you have a paste-like consistency. it should easily coat a spoon, not just drip off.

2. Check the instructions on the back of your seed packet (or at the end of this post) to see how far to space seeds apart. Use the ruler, and write marks on your strips of newspaper at the correct intervals.

3. Dab a bit of flour paste onto the marks you wrote.

4. Place a seed (or two, if you’re concerned about whether they’ll germinate or not) into each dab of flour glue.

5. Write the name of the variety on each strip of newspaper.

6. Wait for the flour glue to dry completely, then store your seed tapes in an airtight container, preferably in a cool place until it’s time to plant. The refrigerator works well, as does an unheated garage.

When it’s time to plant, simply place your seed tape in the garden, and cover with soil, 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep, depending on what type of seed you’re planting. Water in well, keep it moist, and wait for those first sprouts to show up.
Seed Spacing for Common Herbs, and Vegetables

Space your seeds on the seed tape according to the following general recommendations. You can also find this information on your seed packet.

Herbs:
* Basil: 4 inches
* Chives: 6 inches
* Cilantro: 6 inches
* Dill: 12 inches
* Mint: 12 inches
* Oregano: 6 inches
* Parsley: 6 inches
* Sage: 12 inches
* Thyme: 8 inches

Vegetables:
These are small-seeded vegetables that are commonly sown directly in the garden.

* Arugula: 4 inches
* Asian greens (bok choy, tatsoi, mizuna): 4 inches
* Beets: 3 inches
* Carrots: 3 inches
* Collards: 6 inches
* Kale: 6 inches
* Lettuce: 6 inches
* Mustard greens: 6 inches
* Radishes: 2 inches
* Rapini: 6 inches
* Spinach: 4 inches
* Swiss chard: 6 inches

Seed tapes are an easy way to get your garden planted. Even better, you can make these seed tapes during the winter and early spring, while you’re waiting to get out into your garden. They’re also a great project to do with kids.

I originally wrote this post for Planet Green, and wanted to share the info with my readers here at Gardening in the Mitten. You can view the original post here.

All through October, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite gardening tips. To check out other “31 Days of…” bloggers, check out this post.

Garden Tip: Hoard Your Autumn Leaves!

I have a slight obsession (that’s like being “a little bit pregnant,” isn’t it?) with autumn leaves. They’re beautiful, of course. Fall is my favorite season, in large part due to the fact that looking out my window and seeing the trees ablaze in orange, yellow, and red just makes me happy.

 

But even more, fall leaves are just so darn useful. And FREE. I watch my neighbors rake their leaves into the street for pickup, and I just can’t understand why you would throw away something so useful. Here are a few things I do with autumn leaves:

1. Use them for mulch.
2. Make a lasagna garden.
3. Make leaf mold.
4. Fill a new raised bed with them. In spring, simply fill the bed the rest of the way with soil and composted manure, and mix well — this gives you absolutely beautiful soil. You can also add them to an existing garden bed and mix or till them in to improve your soil.
5. Keep some on hand to add as “browns” to your compost pile.

In general, it’s best to chop your leaves if you can. We have a leaf vac that shreds them as it sucks the leaves up, and it’s super convenient. Before we had the leaf vac, we’d rake the leaves into piles and run over the piles a few times with a lawnmower. I’ve also heard people say that they add the leaves to a garbage can, then use their weed whacker like a giant immersion blender to chop them up right in the can. Use whatever method works for you!

To save leaves to add to your compost pile throughout the year, simply store your chopped leaves in a clean garbage can, plastic storage bin, or sealed garbage bag. Then it’s easy to grab a handful or two whenever you need to add leaves to your compost bin.

Fall leaves are a great, FREE way to improve your soil. Start hoarding them!

All through October, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite gardening tips. To check out other “31 Days of…” bloggers, check out this post.