Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Getting to Grips With Seed Mats et al.

Earlier this year, I spent a fascinating morning at Seed Developments finding out how they go about making biodegradable seed tapes, discs and mats. Naturally, they've given me a few samples to try, which I've supplemented with a few others I've found in various shops :)

This isn't my first venture into this field. You may remember I tried some mixed salad leaves discs for my 52 Week Salad Challenge experiments last year. The mats were ideal for my biochar trial as I didn't have to worry about getting an even number and spread of seed onto my compost. Later on, they also became part of my Travellers' Salad ;)

Prior to then, I'd dismissed seed tapes as a GYO option, partly due to lack of choice as most of the the seeds I like to grow aren't available in this form. The cost per seed compared to packets is quite a bit higher too. However, having trialled the salad mats last year, I'm now seeing their advantages. Sowing is quicker and less fiddly, plus there's no thinning needed. So, there's quite a bit of time and bending over saved during the growing season.

Lately I've seen another benefit. I'm suffering from RSI at the moment (and typing this isn't helping!) and as well as the pain, I'm finding fine finger control quite difficult. It means sowing larger seeds like cucumber is trickier than usual and quite often the seed pops out of my fingers before I can get it into the compost. So whilst I'd initially dismissed the cucumber seed mat as not really needed because larger seeds are so easy to handle, it's actually been a godsend this year.

Seed mats and tapes seen at the Edible Garden Show in March
Seed Developments is a British company (hurrah!) based in Somerset and is the top manufacturer of these products in the world. You won't find them named as such in the shops because they tend to 'badge produce' for companies like Chiltern Seeds, ProVeg, Suttons and DT Brown. I also see there's a new option available: a new online retailer (supplied by Seed Developments) is selling seed tapes, discs and carpets with lots more varieties on offer. I'm heartened by this as there's an opportunity for them to offer a wider variety of seeds to usual.

Georgie over at Common Farm Flowers is also trialling some seed tray sized flower mats. As a commercial grower, she sees possible advantages in terms of sowing time and optimum seed spacing. I was also going to blog about the production process (as it's the kind of thing I find fascinating), but I see I've been beaten to it already :)
    The 52 Week Salad Challenge is sponsored by Greenhouse Sensation.

    Note to readers: sponsorship goes towards my blogging costs and does not affect my independence.


    1. This isn't really the same thing, because I don't think the seeds are spaced out in this paper, but I thought you might like it:
      Sheep poo paper florelopes.

      I have nothing to do with this company, and have never even bought any of their products, I just think they're rather cute.

    2. Hi, VP. This is nothing to do with this post but I wonder (given your post on bacterial canker which Helen - ) has alerted me to) I wonder if you would offer your opinion on a shiny spur on my apple tree -

    3. I did try some tape out about five years ago when I wanted to sow direct at the plot. I decided that it would be easier and quicker to get straight lines than doing it myself. The germination wasn't brilliant though and the seed expensive so that has been my one and only experience of them. I can understand their attractions though and may try again in the future. So sorry to hear that you are suffering from RSI at the moment VP and hope that it is not long lasting.

    4. Rachel - I love that idea! Thanks for telling me about it :)

      Esther - I've had a look and emailed you.

      Anna - thanks Anna.


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