Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A good use for our local newspaper

I was in a library in Mankato the other day for a meeting. Over lunch break I broused through the periodicals section, found a magazine on organic gardening, and had a quick read. I found an article on seed tapes -- strips of paper with seeds attached that make planting a garden a little bit easier. I decided to try it out.

I cut strips of newspaper, made a thick flour & water paste, and then dabbed blobs of paste three inches apart along the paper. Graham and Benjamin helped put one bean seed on each blob. Let the strips dry overnight, and wala! Come spring I just have to rake away the top inch of soil in my garden bed, lay these tapes out, and cover them up with dirt.

I tried these tapes with pea seeds too. The peas didn't stick very well. I think the flour & water paste tapes work best with smooth-sided seeds.

I also made some carrot and rutabaga strips, using a different method. Lay out a strip of toilet paper, dampen it with a spray or two of water, and then carefully place the tiny seeds evenly spaced along the paper. Fold the paper over the seeds and spray again to make the paper stick together. Roll the tape up around a rolling pin and slide it off onto a rack to dry.

I'll let you know how the planting, and growing goes with these tapes. Anything that makes garden work easier is a winner in my book.


Karen said...

This proceess sounds like a lot more work than simply pushing the seeds into little holes in the ground. Where does the "easier" part come in???

Jo said...

The easier part is that I don't have to kneel down and make 200 little holes spaced exactly 3" apart and then drop in 200 little bean seeds. I can stand and use a rake to pull off the first 1" of topsoil, lay down the strips, then use the rake again to push the dirt back over. I don't have to worry about the seeds moving around while I rake, cuz they're stuck to the paper.

That's the theory, at least. If it ends up being more work, then I'll have learned a good gardening lesson and go back to doing it the old way.

These seed tapes will likely save me a lot of time with my carrot seeds, which are super tiny and end up getting clumped together if I plant them by hand. With these tapes I also should save a lot of time thinning the carrots, which is one of my least favorite gardening tasks.