February 2, 2010 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
CJ Chapman’s Roll-out Vegetable Seed Mat
Thinking of rolling out a flower or vegetable garden this spring? Consider a prefabricated seed mat such as the Instant Garden Seed-in-a-Blanket by Creative Garden Concepts, a seed germination medium comprised of two layers sandwiching flower or grass seed, an inert distribution medium, nutrients and a water retaining polymer. For veggies and herbs, there’s the GrowEasy Seed Mat, available in tomato, herbs, and peppers from Greenhouse Magastore.
A variation on existing seed mats but more nicely packaged, young UK designer CJ Chapman‘s roll-out veggie mat is a simple nutriant enriched corrugated cardboard seed mat for producing a constant year-round harvest of fresh home grown vegetables with little time and minimal effort.
As Chapman says, home food production can be strenuous work, often taking hours of labor to set up and maintain. He has devised a a simple, fun solution for encouraging families and individuals to grow there own food saving them money and contributing positively to the environment.
I encourage CJ to get this one off the ground–or in the ground, not just in the UK, but everywhere.
Another option is to create your own seed mat. According to GardenGuides.com, a garden social media site, the failure of garden seed mats usually has to do with the types of seeds placed together. To make a garden seed mat that actually grows well, you’ll need to choose complementary plants. The best time to make your garden seed mat is in the late autumn or winter. Here’s their guide for creating your own:
Decide what kinds of vegetables or herbs you want to grow in your garden. Purchase seeds at your local garden store, or if you saved seeds from last year’s garden, you can use those. Choose herbs and vegetables that have similar growth rates, heights, water and sunlight needs, and compatibility for companion gardening. Plant size is a big factor. Ensure that the plant types you select are around the same height so the taller vegetables don’t steal all the sunlight, leaving the shorter-growing ones deep in the shade.
Unroll and tear off a length of heavy-duty brown paper towels. You can make whatever length you like and even use several lengths of paper towels to create a wider seed mat.
Mix a thick paste using 1 part water to 2 parts flour. Spread the paste over the length of brown paper towels.
Place the seeds in the paste, spacing them the appropriate distance for each type of seed. Allow the mat to dry completely. Then, roll up the mat, label it and store it until spring.
Prepare your garden bed when the last expected frost has passed and the springtime soil has warmed to at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn and loosen a patch of soil that’s in full sunlight in your garden or yard using a pitchfork. Remove any weeds, grass or other debris from the soil.
Unroll your garden seed mat and lay it out on the prepared garden bed. Spread a cover of organic compost over the seeds, about 1-inch thick, depending on the types of seeds you’re planting, or to the depth recommended on your seed packets. Water your newly-planted garden well.