We recently returned from a nice getaway to sunny Arizona. Not that our Colorado winter had been too bad this year, but there is something about walking through the department store in February in Arizona and seeing beautiful petunias and marigolds on the shelves. Got my spring fever in high gear! I spent a good portion of the 14 hour drive with my nose shoved firmly into a stack of seed catalogs.
Anyone who has ever planted a carrot seed or a petunia seed, for example, will testify that these seeds are TINY! More than once, I have taken a tweezer and carefully picked up the seed to place into a waiting peat pot. At my age, you need bright light for that!
Since I use block planting in my raised beds, I saw a post that should just make my “tiny seed planting” a bit easier! It is a project that I am able to complete now – long before we are ready to plant outdoors. It should help me scratch that itch that hits so many Gardeners this time of year – the need to plant something!
With block planting (see my post: Here's the Scoop (on dirt!). March 15, 2013) you are able to utilize 100% of your bed. Each seed is strategically planted to optimize it's growing requirements and spaced to shade and choke out the weeds. All good on paper – but trying to get those little carrot seeds every 3″ is another story.
Enter the paper towel seed tape!
Pull apart your roll of double-ply paper towel, folding the top ply back out of the way. Mix up equal parts of flour and water and grab a small craft-type paint brush. I was preparing enough homemade seed tape to plant carrot seeds every 3″ on center and cover an 8' x 4' raised bed. I looked all over and couldn't find a small paint brush, but found that just a dribble of the flour/water paste came off a teaspoon quite nicely – so no brush seemed necessary. I found it helpful to mark the toweling in a grid pattern so that I could just dab the flour/water mixture in the right spot easily.
Go right to the edge of the paper towel – that way if you are planting more than one row of toweling in a garden, you will know where the last seed edge is located. Lightly tap the seeds out of the package, or use a tweezer, if necessary, and drop one seed in each dab of paste. Use enough paste that it will hold the seed and the top ply of paper towel in place as it dries. This 3″ on center technique works for block planting. If you are simply planting in a row, check your seed packet to give you insight on the spacing you”ll need for planting. You can easily cut paper towel “strips” for row planting using this same method.
One of the great things about planting carrots with your homemade seed tape is that when the plants grow, they are already perfectly spaced and will require no thinning! It is so much easier placing the dark carrot seed on the correct spot with the white background of the paper towel and flour glue. I was able to construct the rolls in the warmth and light of my kitchen weeks before I would be able to plant outside. As soon as they dry, I will label them, roll them up and store in a cool dry place. Now….where are those petunia seeds???