Seeds are your second harvest!
Some of your plants will be finishing in July while others you will still be planting, eking out the last possible summer tasties! For you SEED SAVERS, note which of your favorite plants gave prolific harvests, the most quality veggies. They are perfect seed saving candidates! Tag them, tie a colorful ribbon on them, and let them seed. Let an arugula, a radish or two, a couple carrots, cilantro, favorite lettuces seed out. Let them get tall and pretty with flowers, bring the bees, complete their cycle by creating their seeds and turning lovely tans and browns. These amazing reliable local performers are known as landraces or “folk varieties.”
Making your own Seed Strips is wonderful for so many reasons!
- Size matters! Big seeds like beans, favas, corn, peas, squash, are easy to handle, to count out per planting space, you can see where you put them and find them if you drop them. Radish seeds are small, so rolly polly, and have the power to become practically invisible! Lord help you if you spill them. Carrot seeds can be clumpy, and odd shaped, so tangle and are hard to distribute evenly. Seed strips put ’em right where you want ’em, no losses, no wasted seeds!
- If your hands are damp, the little buggers stick to your fingers. Doesn’t happen with your seed strip.
- Save your back! At planting time, just lay down that seed strip, cover, water, and you’re done! And, no more of that over planting thinning! It is a painstaking, time taking, pain in the patootie!
- The plants you want are not always available on seed strips for purchase, whether it is the variety you prefer, or it’s out of stock.
- If you only have a certain number of seeds or they are expensive and you simply don’t want to waste them, seed strips are the way to go!
The only disadvantage of seed tapes is if a seed doesn’t germinate, you have an empty spot. At which point, plant a seed there asap, or just let it go. Using viable seeds in the first place helps a lot. Know that you are taking a chance if you use too old seeds.
Here’s the simplicity of it! All you need is seeds, strip material, sticky stuff.
1) Your strip material can be no color ink newspaper 1″ wide or, 2″ wide recycled, unbleached bathroom tissue (the quickest biodegradable) or paper towels – no color ink. Lay them out on cookie sheets for easy clean up later and so they don’t stick to anything else when they are drying. If you are doing mesclun, use paper towel squares!
2) Sticky stuff can be dots of Elmer’s glue, or mix a paste of 1/4 cup flour with 2 tablespoons warm water. Make your dots about 1″ apart or as you wish. Place your seeds on the dots. Tweezers? A toothpick helps to poke them in. If you are using paper towels, apply your dots to one side, then fold the towel over them so you end up with a 1″ wide strip. One inch apart spacing for radish and carrots. With lettuce, if you don’t mind a bit of thinning, plant closer than usual. Thin a few times as they get bigger, ending up with your final plants, doing cut and come again on those.
You can get creative! Use a toilet paper wide strip. Put slow growers like carrots along with quick growers like radish. Or put a more ‘permanent’ cut and come again plant like lettuce, with a quick and gone plant like radish. The lettuce will fill out, covering the space where the radish was before. 3) Gifts! Let the strips dry, label with date and name, roll up loosely and gently. If a gift, add a color paper around each roll to identify them. Green for lettuce, orange for carrots, red for radish. Store in an airtight container or in a bag in a cool, dry place, with their seed packet. Add a little salt to keep the seeds dry. Make an instruction sheet cover for gift tins.
4) Plant your strips seed side up, the right depth per plant. Plant in rows or any creative pattern that suits your fancy! Newspaper and paper towels biodegrade quickly and help hold moisture so your seeds will germinate well.
Wonderful way to spend an evening, great project to do with kids!