One of the best ways to get me out of any winter funk is to start thinking about the Spring, and gardening, and being outside.. I'm almost instantly happy and it's like I can feel the warm sun on my back as I tend to my plants!! I don't think I was made to live in a province that is cold 80% of the time. Having that bit of joy to look forward to is how I cope with -52 degree weather!
One thing I do to prepare for the coming planting season, aside from starting my seedlings, is making my own seed tape! This is an easy and inexpensive thing to do (considering seed tape from the store is generally 5 times the price of the package of seeds and you get far less). I use this for super small seeds, primarily carrots or beets. You can even make seed tape for lettuce or radishes - anything small that you typically need to thin when hand-sowing because you've inevitably planted them too close together or you've got small kiddo helping hands that - while super cute and enthusiastic about the process, can sometimes put too many seeds in one spot.
What you'll need:
* 2 ply toilet paper (you can get just the cheapest stuff you can find, if you can find unbleached perfect)
* 2 tbsps water
* 2 tbsps flour (I used whole wheat flour but all-purpose will do)
* your package of seeds
* a small spoon or knife, or a wooden spoon
1. Prepare your "glue" by mixing one part flour to one part water in a measuring cup. You want the consistency to be similar to that of a pancake batter. Not too runny, but not too thick. A little goes along way here, so you can start with a 1:1 ratio and adjust or make more as needed. If it's too thick, add a touch more water, too thin, add a bit more flour.
2. Unroll your toilet paper into the length you'd like, or the size of your working space. I typically make mine about 4 ft long. I have a smaller raised garden bed so this allows for a bit of wiggle room. You'll be able to cut these to the size of the row as needed so make them as big or as small as you'd like! From there, separate the toilet paper so you have 2 long strips.
3. Using your spoon/butter knife or the handle of a wooden spoon, make dots of the glue at the edge of your first sheet of toilet paper. Try not to make them too big - a little goes a long way! If you'd like, you can use a ruler - you want between 2-3 inches between dots. You can put them closer together but you will have to thin out once these sprout. I typically make mine about 2" apart, but you can refer to your seed packet for their suggested spacing. Complete one length of the toilet paper.
4. Pour a few seeds out into your hand or into a small bowl and place 1-2 seeds in each dot. If you place two seeds, again you may have to thin, but it's also a good "insurance policy" if one of the seeds doesn't work out.
5. Once you've completed the row, fold the toilet paper in half and press together so it's "glued" in place! You can then roll it like a little sushi roll or wind it onto a paper towel roll or piece of cardboard. Place into a bag that you've labeled with what seeds are in there or write that on the cardboard and that's it! Seed tape that's all ready to go for the Spring.
Repeat the process as many times as you need to, for however much space you plan to plant them in, and switch out the seeds when you want to make a new set!
The benefits of this method:
Cost saving: Buying ready-made seed tape is expensive, especially when you've got a large area. I plant 4 6ft rows of carrots each year and a packet of carrot seed will last 2-3 years with this method. Depending on how much tape you make, you will typically only use about 1/4 of your seeds! You can keep your leftover seeds in the freezer, or a cool, moisture free dark place and they will last you years (don't believe what the expiry date on the package tells you - if a seed doesn't work it's likely due to environmental factors and not age)
Easy to Make + Use: Just dig a small trench to the depth required for your seeds (see the package for each individual required depth), lay your seed tape down and cover with about an inch of dirt (again see your seed packet for depth requirements). Water lightly and let them grow! No more extensive thinning out of plants required :)
You can make these at anytime over the winter when the snow's got you down - just let dry out overnight in an open, dry area and then keep tucked away in a cool, dark place until you're ready to use them. They will not germinate because the toilet paper sucks up any additional moisture, just dry out the rolls before you put them away.
Happy Planting!! If you make these, please tag me on social media @wildroseperfumery if you share a picture - I'd love to see them!!