Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Made Tape

Seed tape, that is.

With all the garden tasks starting to creep in here, can you tell I want it to be spring already?  We got 4 inches of snow overnight and it's cold and gloomy and I needed something to keep me focused on learning and applying new skills for a sustainable lifestyle.  So I made seed tape to get me one step closer to planting my garden.

My intention was just to make a tape with carrot seeds because carrots are something I've had an especially hard time growing successfully.  But I was on such a roll with it that I prepped lots of other veggies as well.

To make your own you need some kind of quickly biodegrading paper.  Newspaper and single-ply TP are two of the easiest and cheapest to use.  You'll also need a little bit of plain white flour, some water and the seeds you want to plant.  I used newspaper.  And yes, I know there's a debate over whether the colored ink is ok or poisonous to your ground.   The printer of these inserts uses soy ink, which I understand makes the impact of the colored ink much less.  Anyway... debate or no, this is what I had so this is what I used.

The first step is to cut your paper into strips.  I made mine roughly an inch wide.  This particular mail insert is two feet across when unfolded and 4 sheets thick which is perfect for the 8-foot rows I'm planning in my garden.

When you have the strips cut, label them so you know what you are planting when the time comes!  You see here I'm planting carrots. I planted them mixed with radishes because they work together symbiotically.  Radishes are larger, fast sprouting seeds which will break the soil and keep it soft for the tiny, slower to sprout carrots.  And then when it's time to thin the carrots out it's just about the perfect time to pull the radishes because they also mature much more quickly.

Mix flour and just enough warm water together to make a paste the consistency of thick glue.  I dobbed it on in dots with a toothpick using the recommended spacing on each seed packet.  I used roughly (ok... I eye-balled it instead of grabbing a measuring cup) 1/4 cup flour and just added my water a little at a time to get the consistency I wanted, stirring constantly to work out the lumps.  That was oodles and scads more than enough for my project today.  Like 10 times more than enough!

I left my tapes in 2-foot sections because it was easier to spread them out to dry on my kitchen counters that way.  I could stick them together later to plant as one long tape or... it's more likely I'll just lay down the shorter pieces end-to-end and go from there.  Again, they will ultimately be  8-foot long rows and today I made tapes for:
3 Bush Beans - Blue Lake
1 Genovese Basil
2 Mixed Leaf Lettuces
1 Swiss Chard - Bright Lights
1 Carrot/Radish - Danvers Half Long/Cherry Bell
1 Beet - Detroit Dark Red
Not a bad task for a snowy cold 'in like a lion' first of March when I'm aching for weather warm enough to be out working in the yard and garden!

I've linked this post to Rural Thursday #5 at A Rural Journal.


Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Hey, that's smart!! Thanks for linking up with Rural Thursday.

Nancy C said...

Great idea and an awesome way to recycle the newspaper as well!

Thank you for sharing with us at Rural Thursday, Kathy. :)