DIY SEED TAPE

09.02.09

homemade DIY seed tape gardener gift

We managed to find a little time this weekend to make our own seed tape. My four-year-old walked into the office to find me with flour paste, a paint brush, and dozens of strips of newspaper. He was instantly intrigued. He ran to get his own brush and we got started.

The intent of seed tape as I’ve seen it is to make planting easier when you have teeny tiny seeds that need to be planted just inches apart (like carrots and radishes). But it’s also fun for gifting flower seeds or giving away seeds you’ve collected from your own garden. And it’s a pretty simple and very kid-friendly project.

DIY seed tape flour pasteHere’s what you’ll need:
-1/4 cup flour + enough water to make a paste
-strips of paper to make the tape: black and white newspaper (no colored ink), single-ply toilet paper, and a thin paper bag all work
-something for dabbing on drops of the paste, like the back of a paint brush
-and seeds!

homemade gift for gardeners seed tape

Making the paste is simple. Start with the flour and mix in water until you have the consistency of a paste. A quarter cup of flour will go a really, really long way.

Check the planting recommendations for your type of seed. Dab the paste onto your strips of paper as far apart as you would plant the seeds. Drop the seeds onto the paste. Drop the same number you would if you were planting. That’s it. Just wait for the paste to dry completely (a couple hours will do) and you’re ready to roll up your tape. Store it in an air-tight plastic bag and it is ready to go for next season. Most types of seeds are planted shallow enough that all you’ll need to do is lay the tape down and sprinkle a bit of dirt over it. Then it’s ready to be watered and to grow.

Homemade seed tape garden

strips of newspaper homemade seed tape
I also had to pretty mine up a bit. I found this tutorial for a newspaper flower, and since I was already slicing up newspaper anyway, it was perfect.

homemade seed tapeDuring this part my 6-year-old joined me and we made flowers side by side. She even made me a newspaper heart. Do you like it?homemade valentine

This particular package of seed tape is going for a special purpose, and if all goes according to plan, I’ll share it with you very soon.

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Neus September 2, 2009 at 11:13 am

This is a really cool idea and a wonderful gift!!!!!!!!!!!

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Carly September 2, 2009 at 1:34 pm

This is awesome – and they look so pretty! I can’t garden but I can definitely facilitate someone else’s gardening! Can’t wait to try this.

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Danielle Spangler September 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm

This is a fantastic idea! Love it.

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Michelle September 2, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Oh, this is such a lovely idea! I can’t wait to hear what you’re doing with these.

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Ashley Ann September 2, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Oh these are so cute. I just made seed packets for sunflower seeds, but seed tape! Now I need more seeds…what a great and fun idea!

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shanti September 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm

amber, can you PLEEEASE stop being so cool? you’re killin’ me! i love this idea!!

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CzaMama September 10, 2009 at 7:02 am

A friend just lead me to your site…what a FANTASTIC idea! I used seed tape as a child when planting with my grandfather, but now as an adult it is much harder to find and when found they aren’t my preferred variety. Thanks for the idea and tutorial. Very cool!

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wide open spaces September 13, 2009 at 8:46 am

I have had this saved in my reader for awhile and am just now getting around to actually tell you how great I think this is. I can’t wait to give it ago. Genius, as usual.

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French Knots September 25, 2009 at 6:15 am

What a brilliant idea, I’m going to make some with the children and look forward to spring!

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Bec October 4, 2009 at 12:21 am

Wow, this would make a wonderful gift, thanks for sharing!

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Anna Bartlett October 4, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Great idea. Definitely a kid friendly project too. Thanks!

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Tiffany @ my petite purse November 3, 2009 at 8:14 pm

thanks for the great gift idea.

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Eryn November 25, 2009 at 2:23 am

What little containers did you find to package yours in? I’m squinting really hard, but can’t come up with any good ideas.

*squints*

It’s driving me nuts! lol

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AmberLee November 25, 2009 at 6:59 am

Hi Eryn,
so funny. sorry about that! I buy a brand of cheese spread from the store that comes in little wedges inside a nice, circular box. I’ve finally learned never to throw away the boxes because those things are great for everything. I’ve even thrown candy and a card in them, wrapped the box up, and mailed it just like that at the post office. It was kind of fun sending a round package.

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kudzu February 12, 2010 at 5:57 pm

I found you last week, and have been planning on making this great idea as soon as possible. Today was perfect! I’ve made some today and will posting about it and linking to you on my blog. I hope you don’t mind.

Thank you for such a lovely,sweet, useful and do-able gift/craft for anyone of any age to make, and works for so many different holidays and just-because gifts :D

kudzu

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BrendaLea February 15, 2010 at 9:46 am

What a great idea and gift and your tutorial was perfect. I can’t wait to make some of these.

BrendaLea

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Marcelle Chambers April 12, 2010 at 11:19 am

AWESOME! I have a very bad back and left hip. This will make my garden planting so very much easier. Thank you so much!

Marcelle C

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doro April 13, 2010 at 2:33 am

fantastic idea. it will make a really great gift.

thanks for the tutorial.
i set a link. i hope you’ll agree.

doro.

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rachel April 13, 2010 at 7:18 am

wow – i just saw these in the garden catalog, and so the idea of making them myself is really a new concept. so glad i have this knowledge now! (hopefully i get some good seeds from my garden this year.)

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Loopy April 13, 2010 at 7:51 am

Oh!! What a stupendous idea! I know could green thumb birthdays coming up, so this is perfect! Thanks!

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Laurel April 13, 2010 at 9:10 am

Thanks for sharing this terrific idea! Every year I have loads of columbine seeds, and I’ve never known what to do with them, aside from tossing them around my own flowerbeds. I can’t wait to make the tape and start gifting!

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Jana @ The Summer House April 20, 2010 at 9:56 am

Wow-such a great idea. I’m bookmarking this for sure!
Jana

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Julie April 22, 2010 at 7:19 pm

The wrapping on your seed tape is wonderful.
How did you wrap it?? I would love to make these and give as gifts.
thanks julie

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AmberLee April 22, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Hi Julie! Thanks for stopping by.
The seed tape is just wrapped in tissue paper. I started by putting the seed tape in leftover boxes from spreadable cheese I had. I just rolled it in a big piece of tissue paper and folded in the top and bottom, piece by piece. It took a couple times of practicing but it wasn’t too hard. I put a piece of newspaper through my sticker maker to make the center sticker. I hope this helps!!

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Deb April 23, 2010 at 5:45 am

Thank you for this fantastic idea! I’m looking forward to trying this out for my own garden and to give to all my friends who love gardening.

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Amy April 30, 2010 at 8:39 am

This is sooo cool! What a great idea. What great presentation. As someone who would much rather make something herself, on the cheap, than buy something pre-made, I really appreciate inspiration like this. I can’t wait to do this myself for myself and as gifts! Thanks!

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Jenny May 4, 2010 at 11:55 am

I know, we want to know EVERY detail. This is just so cute. I’m trying to figure out what you have written on the strips around the outside of each circle. Is it the growing instructions? Did you type them up in a repeating manner?
SO cute! We’re doing this for Mother’s Day!

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geek+nerd May 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm

This is such an awesome idea, and it looks so snazzy packaged up. Thanks for sharing!

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Crystal June 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Great idea. I’m wondering what seeds you could do this with? I will have to try it.

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Victoria June 29, 2010 at 5:57 am

Unbelievably great idea!

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ForMeItsYou September 18, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I think I will try this out for Mothers day next year!

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Krista December 17, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I love this idea! I hate planting those little teeney tiny seeds and this is a fun gift. I shared it on http://www.facebook.com/homemadegiftideas

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Mike January 16, 2011 at 4:20 am

This is great. I purchase seed tapes, but they are expensive and I can never find the vegitable varities I like. Thank you so much.

Mike

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em April 25, 2011 at 8:34 am

OMG-an incredible idea and SO cute! No one has said that before, but this is a perfect and pretty way to store seeds and also be READY when planting is near next year! I am so happy so see so much creativity still in the universe…it renews my faith in mankind so much. Soon I retire and hope so much to devote my creative thinking to these things..
thanks for sharing!

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AmberLee April 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm

em!
Thanks for your sweet note! You made me grin. I’m glad you like the seed tape idea and hope you enjoy some serious creative time in the near future!!

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Dennis April 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Two years ago I made my own seed tapes for onions, radishes, lettuce kohlrabi, carrots, shallots, & cabbage. I was really hoping to save a lot of time and effort by doing the grunt work in my shop and just laying the tapes down in my raised beds and covering then with a fine soil and sand. But all I did was waste my time, and shorten the gardening season. I gave up on them in about 4 weeks and had to replant directly in the soil, so I lost four weeks of germination/growing time. I made the tapes at the end of March, 2008 and planted them during first week of April 2008.
I used newspapers cut in 1″ strips and a flour and water paste. The year before I made seed tapes for flower seeds using toilet paper and Elmer’s glue. No germination in that tries also.
I read once, maybe 5 to 10 years before that the newspaper, I was getting used corn starch in the ink and I was wondering if the corn starch contained corn gluten, a product that is used to prevent the germination of weed seeds, and maybe that was my problem. However I read in another blog that the person used a corn starch and water mixture and had great results, so the corn gluten theory doesn’t seem to wash. I will admit that some of the seeds were a year old, but I’ve used 2 to 3 year old seed in the past, direct sowing and have had no problems. I used a drip system in my garden, recycled rubber tire soaker hoses, – maybe the top surface of the soil wasn’t kept wet enough to aid in the breakdown of the newspapers and paste. I did use a hose and nozzle with a fine spray to wet down the beds when I finished planting, but after that I relied on the soaker hoses to do their job and the soil did appear to be damp when I would do daily to every 3 days checks. I but I did find some pieces of newspapers in the garden after the growing season was finished.
Have your seed tapes been successful

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Sharon Hemsath September 16, 2011 at 6:27 am

Hi Dennis,

I’ve had the same issue. I was SO excited to use my seed tapes but they never germinated and I lost a lot of time. I used the newspaper and elmer’s glue. The newspaper just never seemed to break down (or the glue for that matter) and so the seeds were just stuck there and so was the paper. This year, I’m going to try to use toilet paper (1 ply) and put the glue between the seeds and then fold over the paper. This way, the seeds are just between pockets of toilet paper.

Wish me luck! :) Sharon

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Bikram Miami May 5, 2011 at 11:29 am

thats really creative.

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Gloria May 25, 2011 at 10:56 am

Thankyou is very igenious and original

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Kate September 10, 2011 at 10:37 pm

This is a fabulous idea!

I’m going to try this for sure.

It would also make a great party favour idea for my daughter’s garden party themed birthday

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Lady Banksia September 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I took you up on your seed tape idea. Went with strips of newspaper cut to, oh, about 3/4″ to 1″ wide. Just used the flour paste. Worked fine – but this idea may show my compulsive side a little – I got out my large cutting mat and laid the strips out on it, using the gridlines as markers for spacing.

See – told ya. Compulsive…

Thanks for the idea. Love this site! Never again will I have to say “I’ve nothing to do…”

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AmberLee October 13, 2011 at 7:09 am

Lady Banksia,

I’ve been meaning to write for weeks and tell you, thanks for your note, it cracked me up : )

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Shell December 15, 2011 at 6:37 am

This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

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Olivia Wilde January 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm

What a great idea! Perfect for spring parties

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Teresa May January 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm

What an awesome idea. I hate planting individual seeds, by hand – the wind usually blows away half the smaller seeds (lettuce, radish, etc.). Now just to put in my seed order.

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blue heron January 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Just had a demo of how to make seed tape. An addition of powdered milk was included in the paste recipe, but she was not sure what it added.
I was wondering how you did the beautiful pleated wrapping of your tins, as I think this idea as a gift would be great!
Thanks

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AmberLee January 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Hi blue heron. Thanks for the note. I wrapped these up by rolling tissue paper around the edge to make a cylendar, then I started pulling down the edges, one piece at a time, and taping it in the center. I covered it with a circle label. I hope this helps!! I’m so happy you like it.

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Tabby July 26, 2012 at 11:13 am

Powdered milk is a fertilizer, to help the seeds get going. You can even use old ‘expired’ powdered milk, or use expired every-day-from-your-fridge milk, but in that case, I would make a trench near your plants, pour it in, and cover back up with dirt to prevent spoiled milk smell…..

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Kathleen January 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Great idea! I have an old roll of tickets, the kind you tear off for raffles and door prizes and such. Do you think those would work or would they be too thick?

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AmberLee January 30, 2012 at 5:44 am

Hi Kathleen,
A roll of tickets would be really cute, but it is possible they’d be too thick. It may be worth an experiment beforehand? I’d love to hear what you decide! Good luck!

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Fin February 8, 2012 at 10:43 am

I will for sure be doing this this year! I think I will be using toilet paper tho, I don’t know if I trust the newspaper around here…

Thanks for the great idea!

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Pamela Swan February 10, 2012 at 7:28 am

I am loving all the cool decorating that goes with this seed tape method!! i am a Master Gardener in MN. with a lot of cold hours to spend doing fun and useful ideas. I wish my computer would print this out but it is being very uncooperattve-is there a printable version?

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Heather March 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I **LOVE** this! It’s such a **GREAT** idea…. and a fantastic gift idea, too. It would also be a fun activity for a Garden / Flower themed party (for both kids and adults). :)
And I also **LOVE** your child’s Newspaper Heart! :) Attached to the Seed Tape would make it a delightful Valentine gift that would beat any store-bought Valentine. :)
It’s a wonderful gift that keeps on giving. ;) Thanks so much for sharing! :)
**Smiles**, Heather =)

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Breanna Hayes April 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Great idea for fundraisers, too! <3

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jen April 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Hi AmberLee!

I just wanted to drop a line and let you know that your DIY Seed Tape was one of our favorite picks for our eco-friendly craft list.
Here’s the link here: http://www.kiwicrate.com/blog/4080/kiwi-crate-picks-the-top-10-kid-friendly-earth-day-crafts-and-projects/

Thank you for inspiring us. :)

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