Tip for Sowing Small Seeds

— Written By and last updated by Emily Walter

Gardening can be made easier by doing some of the work indoors first, especially when dealing with small seeds.

“One of the hardest jobs in the garden is sowing small seeds to the right spacing and the right depth,” said Tom Hroza, Duplin/Sampson Extension Horticulture Area Agent. “How many times have you opened a packet of seeds and began trying to drop just the right amount of seed out while walking down the row? And, this time of year the wind is blowing, too.”

Hroza noted that when the seeds begin to germinate, your plants are scattered all over the garden and your row is empty. However, there is a way to fix this situation by using seed tape that you can make yourself or purchase.

“Commercial seed tapes can get very expensive and sometimes they aren’t available with the variety of seed you want to plant.” Hroza add, “My suggestion is to make your own seed tapes. Seed tapes work better for small seeds such as carrot, beet, radish or lettuce, but can be used with any seed to get precise seed spacing and depth.”

Start with a roll of tissue paper, the seeds you want to sow, and a couple of empty tissue rolls. Next, unroll a length that is easy to work with on your kitchen table or workbench, usually a piece about 6 feet.

Fold this piece in half and make a sharp crease right down the middle of the strip. In the sharp crease, space seeds to the recommended plant spacing. Properly spacing these seeds may eliminate future plant thinning. Fold over the paper and then take the loose ends and fold those back toward the creased side. Your paper should be folded twice and the seeds secure in the crease. Take the empty tissue roll and roll up the paper. Label it and put it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll it out in your garden row. Cover the paper with the proper amount of soil and water well.

“When planning each different tape, consider putting in some beneficial flowers that repel insects such as marigolds, along with the main seed. Enjoy.” Hroza said.