from the employee owners at Gardener's Supply Co.

Seed Tapes: Sow Fast, So Easy

Raised Bed planted with Seed Tape

My 4 x 8-ft. raised bed.

I love a neat garden that is intensively planted and incredibly productive. But I hate to plant microscopic seed, then go through the tedious process of thinning out the extras. Typically I waste a lot of seed when planting salad greens and carrots. And my back aches from thinning over-seeded beds. So, last year I was excited to test some special seed tapes.

I love a neat garden that is intensively planted and incredibly productive. But I hate to plant microscopic seed, then go through the tedious process of thinning out the extras.

Typically I waste a lot of seed when planting salad greens and carrots. And my back aches from thinning over-seeded beds. So, last year I was excited to test some special Seed Tape samples from Sutton’s Seed in England. What a great idea: pre-spaced seed on dissolving paper tape.

I tested the tapes in a 4 X 8-ft. wooden raised bed. To make planting easy, I used a circular saw to cut shallow grooves every 6″ along the short sides. I stretched twine and knotted it to hold it “guitar-string tight,” seven strings total.

Notch in raised bed secures the twine

Notch keeps twine tight.

Planting with Seed Tape is simple:

  1. Make a shallow trench under each string.
  2. Place the tape in the trench.
  3. Moisten the tape with a fine mist of water.
  4. Cover the tape gently with a little soil.

Following the strings made planting neat and logical. I have a 4″ stirrup hoe, very similar to our Hula Hoe, that made weeding between the rows precise and quick. Germination was surprisingly fast and the bed began to fill with new growth in no time.

Early in the season.

Not all rows germinated at the same time, so the handy string guides really helped me weed only the weeds. As the plants matured, I threaded soaker hose up and down the rows to reduce my watering chores. That’s when the magic of Seed Tape really started. The bed grew so fast and uniform, that the competing weeds got choked out. I ended up with more abundant greens and root crops than I have ever grown before, using just twine and seed tape.

I grew carrots, beets, chard (perpetual spinach), and radish, enough for the whole family in a manageable space. I even used spring onion seed tape around the perimeter of my tomato raised bed.

Testing seed tapes indoorsNow that it’s winter, I’m testing some greens indoors under fluorescent lights, using short lengths of plastic rain gutter along with, you guessed it, seed tape. I’ll let you know how this experiment “grows” in a follow-up post later this year.

—Frank Oliver, Gardener’s SupplyFrank Oliver has been designing and testing innovative gardening products for more than 18 years. He lives on a small farmstead in Essex, VT, where he and his wife raise a few sheep and chickens along with lots of flowers and vegetables. His proudest gardening achievement is organically fostering a lush green pasture, managed by contented grazing animals that produce the finest fertilizer ever.

2 Comments

  1. Ann
    March 9, 2011    

    I too am excited by Seed Tape, but it seems very expensive for the convenience. I suppose if yields could be proven to be higher, it would be worth it. However, the next logical step would be to provide us with the “tape” as the product that we could buy and add our own seed to.

  2. Nancy
    March 16, 2011    

    Loved this! Thank you..Where can you purchase such a product?

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