I love the Old Farmer’s Almanac. I check it for last frost dates in spring and first frost dates in fall. I’ve found some great gardening tips over the years and this year I discovered some terrific ways to deal with problems many of us have when sowing seeds in the garden. We’re planting our early seeds right now and you can bet I’m going to use these tricks!
Homemade seed tape – You’ll need toilet paper, flour, and water: Make your planting trench the correct depth for the seeds you’re planting. Roll out enough toilet paper for the length of the row. Cut the toilet paper in half lengthwise. Make a paste of the flour mixed with a bit of water and dab a bit of the flour paste at the correct spacing for the seed. Put two seeds on each dab of flour paste. Fold the paper in half lengthwise and, if you’re not planting immediately, roll the paper up to store. Otherwise just lay the folded paper along the row, cover with the correct amount of soil and water. Paper towels work great for square planting (for example Square Foot Gardening). Just dab, place two seeds, and cover with another square of toilet paper.
Tiny seeds, like carrots, can be mixed with fine, dry sand. Put a pinch of seeds into a couple of tablespoons of sand. Dig the trench to the correct planting depth and sprinkle, by hand, the sand/seed mix into the trench. Cover with soil and water.
Big seeds, like beans and squash, will germinate faster if the outer covering is roughed up a bit. Gently roll the seeds between two pieces of fine sandpaper just until the seed coat begins to come off. Don’t rub too much or you’ll damage the seed. Or you can soak seeds in lukewarm water for 24 hours.Parsley seeds benefit from being soaked for 24 hours, then having the water changed and soaked for another 24 hours.
If you’re having trouble seeing your seeds against the dark soil, ensure proper spacing by laying toilet paper in the seed row. The dark seeds will show up against the white paper.
Use row markers so you know where you’ve planted or plant a fast germinating and growing seed along with the slower ones. For example, plant radishes in the same row as parsnips. The radishes germinate in a few days and will be harvested long before the slow growing parsnips.
You can give very slow germinating plants a head start by putting a layer of damp paper towel in a sealable plastic container. Space the seeds on the paper towel and cover with two more layers of damp paper towel. Seal the lid and put the container in a warm spot (65° – 70°F). Check after a few days and, if you see roots starting to sprout, the seeds can be planted. Don’t worry about which side of the seed is up when you plant. The roots will always grow down.