Seed Mats: A Guide for Spring Planting

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Spring is a busy time of year in both the garden and the classroom! In order to make spring planting with your students a little more accessible, manageable and enjoyable for everyone; we’d like to suggest making seed mats. Seed mats are a great way to simultaneously apply both math and science concepts into gardening activities. Read on as we share our step by step directions for making seed mats. This method is ideal for planting your Civic Garden Center Spring 2017 Seed Collection in 4’x8′ raised garden beds using square foot gardening practices.

The Civic Garden Center Spring 2017 Seed Collection and supplies for creating seed mats will be passed out for FREE (one pack per school/youth gardening organization) at the Spring Seed Giveaway workshop at the Civic Garden Center on February 9, 2017 from 3:30-5pm. Click here for more details about this and other workshops.

Step 1: Gather your materials.

  • Seventh Generation napkin (32 in total to fill a 4’x8′ garden bed)
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • ½ tablespoon flour
  • ¾ tablespoon water
  • Small cup
  • Paintbrush
  • Tweezers (optional)
  • Proper Seed Spacing Guide
  • Civic Garden Center Spring 2017 Seed Collection
  • 4’x8′ raised bed with fertile soil & compost mixture
  • Straw
  • Water (hose with mist nozzle optional)

    Seed mat materials

Step 2: Mark the napkin

Begin the activity by unfolding the Seventh Generation napkin so that the length (horizontal “x” axis) is 12.5’’ and the width (vertical “y” axis) is 11.5’’. While the length and the width of these napkins may vary slightly, the key is to ensure that the horizontal “x” axis is the longer side when making measurements for seed placement.

Next, use a ruler and marker to create a 1’’ border on all sides of the napkin. Then choose the seed variety you will plant, write the name and date outside the border on your napkin and use our customized Proper Seed Spacing Guide to identify the proper spacing measurements. The table on the guide gives specifics for creating a grid placing seeds where the grid lines cross.

Border and beginning of grid
Border and grid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Attach the seeds

Add ½ tablespoon flour to a small cup and stir in ¾ tablespoon water with the paintbrush. The result in a paste with glue-like consistency. Use the paintbrush to apply a drop of this paste to each intersection where the grid lines cross. Then place 2 seeds on each drop of paste and press down firmly so they have direct contact with the napkin and paste. Tweezers may help when picking up the small seeds. Once paste has dried, you can fold and store these mats in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant them in the garden.

Applying paste where the grid lines intersect
Apply two seeds to each area where paste was applied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Plant outside

Once the outside temperature is consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, prepare your garden by clearing any weeds or spent plants, loosening the soil, and removing the top ½ inch of soil (place this soil nearby since you will need it to cover the seed mats). Use yarn or flour to mark spacing for square foot gardening. See our Square Foot Gardening Preparations blog for support with this process. Next, use the Civic Garden Center Spring 2017 Seed Collection document (page 2) to determine proper placement and lay your seed mats so they are on top of the soil, seeds facing up. The edges of the napkins may overlap slightly, but the border should help keep proper spacing. Use popsicle sticks with the seed name and date to help with identification and tracking growth. Place these popsicle sticks in the soil, so you can read the information, with the matching seed mat. Cover the mat with the soil you removed, just a thin ½ inch layer. Press the soil down onto the mat with flat palms so the seeds have direct contact with the soil. Add a ½ inch layer of straw to act as a mulch and retain soil moisture. The final step is a thorough watering. Use a hose nozzle to mist the seed mats or gently sprinkle with water on top if you do not have a mist setting. If the water pressure is too strong the mats can tear. Be sure to keep your seeds moist so they germinate-this may require DAILY watering.

As always keep us informed about your experiences! We are excited to experiment with you in your gardening adventures.

Ready to plant in the square foot gardening grid
Ready for water!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please feel free to contact us at youtheducation@civicgardencenter.org with questions, comments or support! We’re here for you!

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