August Basson also shared a techniquethat can be used for planting small seeds in a no-till situation. “We stick small seed crops to a piece of newspaper with white wood glue. You can do this in a strip or on little pieces. Then you take this and stick it into a little slot in the soil. It works great. The glue dissolves and seeds germinate.
“This was developed by a school girl somewhere in South Africa. I wish I had her contact details.
* Cut a strip of newspaper 1.5 to 2 cm wide. [Editor: If newspaper is not available, one might substitute dried leaves, perhaps of banana.]
* Take wood glue (white) that will dissolve in water. Put a small drop in the middle of the strip of paper with a nail, piece of wood or the spout of the glue bottle. [Editor: You could try to make your own glue (paste) by heating refined wheat flour in water.]
* Space the drops of glue as far apart as you would like to plant the seeds. For example carrots need to be spaced every 4 fingers (or 6 cm) apart.
* Put one seed on each drop of glue and leave it to dry.
* When dry, you can roll up the piece of paper and store it for months before you need to plant it. The amazing thing is each seed germinates and you do not lose 90% of your carrot seeds.
* You do not need to dig up the soil. Use your no-till method and just open a small slot in the soil with a spade. Slide the piece of paper into the slot and close it up. Leave a small piece of the paper above the soil. This will help to know where to water the seeds. The paper must be planted vertically in the soil.
* Any small seed crops can be planted this way.
*With crops like tomatoes and cabbage you can cut the paper in 3 cm pieces. Put the seed in the middle and just plant this small piece of paper in the right spot in the soil, water it and see what happens.
* Every seed counts. People with little money do not have money to buy lots of seeds. In one small packet of carrots there are 1000 seeds. Each one can germinate in this way.
* The planting depth can be determined and very accurately followed.
* You see the top of the paper and can see where to water the planted seeds
.” [Ed: My one concern is that the paper sticking up out of the soil could act as a wick to dry out the seed.]
ECHO Staff 2008. Tips for Planting Small Seeds. ECHO Development Notes no. 99