Seed tape

Fresh, crunchy, home-grown carrots, straight from the ground, are something to die for. But they’re a pain to grow.

Because the seedlings don’t like being transplanted, the tiny seed has to be direct sown. Then, because it’s impossible to sow thinly enough, the seedlings have to be thinned out to ensure that each carrot has enough room to grow.

Thinning is the painful part. My back gives out after a few minutes and  I usually give up.

Some enterprising person (probably one with a bad back) has invented seed tape, in which each seed is nicely spaced and enclosed in a strip of tape. You simply plant the strip and if you’re lucky your carrots come up perfectly spaced. The tape rots away.

I’ve been aware of seed tape for a while but never actually seen it for sale, so when I was at Bunnings recently, browsing through the seeds, I saw a packet and grabbed it to try.

It’s Fothergills brand and Nantes variety, which just happens to be the one I always grow. There’s 5 metres of tape in all.

I grow my veggies in wire circles half filled with compost. The circles are 45cm high and that’s just enough to keep out the wild rabbits we’re blessed cursed with. Each circle is about 80cm in diameter. Here’s what it looked like when I’d finished:

I covered the rows of tape with a thin layer of sieved potting mix and watered it all in. I’ll be watching with interest to see how they germinate.

The inner circle of black plastic tube is my watering system. It has two small upright spray heads on opposite sides. I click the hose from the water tank onto the inlet and a fine spray covers the bed.

It then occurred to me (I’m slow, but I get there) that I could make my own tape. I’d like to try radish seed this way. I Googled and found that there are people already doing this (as I said I’m slow). I thought about what I’d use for glue and discovered that flour paste is the go. The tape I bought is the texture and strength of toilet paper, but I think I’ll go for something a little stronger, maybe newspaper (using the margins where there’s no print).

Making seed tapes will be a good indoor job for winter nights by the wood fire.

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