Fun with paper and glue

You may be wondering exactly what this picture has to do with allotments. Well, it’s our first ever, home-made, seed planting strips! Yes, they are a little late going in, but as we live in the soft south, we’re still hopeful that they will produce a crop.

The thing is, onion seed is fiddly, really really fiddly. And you can’t transplant onions. So … if you want to be sure your tiny onion seed is properly spaced when it goes into the ground, it requires some work (so we’ve been told) with paper and glue.

What you need to do is get some nice long strips of newspaper, about half an inch deep and the full width of the best of the press – the Telegraph is a perfect size, I’ve found – and measure six inch spacings. At each six inch point, you put a dab of ‘glue’ made from flour and water, and onto the glue you dot a single onion seed. Allow the whole business to dry and then pack it into a long tray for transport from home to the plot.

When you get there, all you need to do is dig a shallow trench about half an inch deep and lay the paper strips into it. Cover the trench and water if necessary. If you’re clever, you’ll pick a day when rain is forecast for the afternoon so you don’t even have to water them in.

You might be thinking this is a lot of effort (I might be thinking that too, after an evening spent with paste-brush, scissors and tiny seeds) and wondering if it’s worth it? Well, as yet we don’t know, so what we’re doing is preparing half our over-wintering onion seed this way, and simply dropping the other half into prepared rows by hand. As they grow we’ll be able to see if the extra work in preparing the strips has been worth it, or not, or even if it's better to make the extra investment in onion sets and not grow from seed at all. Watch this space …

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, October 7, 2008

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