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Monday, April 11, 2011

Good Idea No. 11 - Homemade Seed Tape

I hate wasting seed, don't you?  The idea of sowing a bunch of seeds only to go back and thin them out seems to me like a mighty good way to sell a lot of seed.  I've tried sowing carrots with sand, and I've tried ticking them out with one of those little seed drills that has the graduated holes, and I still wind up thinning the carrots.  So when I read recently (Mother Earth News? I forget where exactly) about a method that struck me as a brilliant idea for saving on carrot seed, I couldn't wait to try it.   What the person recommended from their own experience was to spray down a strip of toilet paper with sugar spray, scatter some seed on it, layer another strip of toilet paper on it, and spray it down again.  So I tried it and the results were less than spectacular.  I'm cheap. I buy my toilet paper at Costco, so you know it isn't the sturdy stuff they use bear cartoons to sell on TV.  It was difficult to move off the counter, to say the least, not to mention made a mess of the counter.  But once I got it up off the stone I could see that the person with the idea was on the right track, even if they never quite made it in to the station.  The Yaya carrot seed was set on toilet paper, and it's drying on parchment paper.

For the Chantenay carrots, I tried something a little different.  I save light colored and white tissue paper for embroidering projects (not that I have time for one), so I grabbed a couple small sheets of that and cut each in half.  Then I brushed the tissue down with sugar syrup using a pastry brush.  Already this was working out better. With the tissue saturated just enough so that it now clung to the counter, I grabbed a chopstick and flicked carrot seed out of my palm in a scatter pattern all over the tissue.  You could probably use a toothpick or a skewer- I grabbed a chopstick because it was handiest.  Any seed that was lying too close to its neighbor was easy to shove over into a vacant section of the paper with the chopstick. Then I carefully matched the second half of the tissue paper over the first, and smoothed it down around the seeds with a saturated pastry brush again.  The tissue paper was much easier to get up off the counter and move over to the Silpat.  And the seeds look good- nice and roomy.

Tomorrow, they should both be dry enough to cut into strips and lay into shallow furrows where I want them.

I can't exactly say no fuss, no muss, but I'm happy about having a fairly east way to get those tiny seeds in the ground without wasting a bunch of them.   Much easier on my back.


Dawn Dutton said...

Thanks for whammy the good ideas. Will try it out.

Rae said...

Great idea! I hate thinning (maybe because I had to thin row after row after row of carrots and onions when I was a kid... built character, eh?) I don't think we'll be doing any root veggies this year, as the soil needs work, but I think I'll have to search this post out again next year! :)

Paula said...

You're welcome Dawn. I love passing on a good idea when I have one or find one.

Paula said...

Hah! I hate weeding because that's what I got to do!

And yes, I think you're a character and now I know why.

I had no trouble pulling the almost dry papers off their respective Silpat and parchment paper, and since they were both almost completely dry I turned them over to finish.

Miriam said...

Another great idea! One of the differences between you and me is I hear a good idea and think "Wow, that's a good idea" and then that's about as far as it goes. You, on the other hand, actually TRY the good idea and pass it on to us! So thanks!

Paula said...

Miriam- that's because a good idea is only a good idea if it's put into practice and proven! Otherwise, it's just an idea.

Glad to be of service!