The roller coaster of spring weather may have gardeners confused and frustrated, but one thing is for certain — it is time to start seeds for vegetable or ornamental gardens. Starting from seed gives gardeners a wide range of variety choice.


The feel-good garden

It is no coincidence that gardening makes you feel good. It is a scientific fact. According to the online newsletter, Landscape Insider by Nicole Wisniewski, gardening has been identified as one way to get that physical activity necessary for losing weight and enhancing physical and mental health, according to the Institute for Weight Management.

What kind of calorie burning are we talking about? The Institute reports that for a 185-pound person, general gardening can burn up to 200 calories per half hour. For a 155- to 185-pound person, weeding a garden can burn 172 to 205 calories per half hour. Digging in garden dirt or spading dirt can burn 150 to 222 calories per half hour.

And not only that, but get this: According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology, being outdoors can also help you feel less stressed. Studies show exercising in nature (or make that gardening) results in less fatigue, reduced anxiety, less hostility, more positive thoughts and an overall feeling of invigoration, Outside magazine reports.

What's more, sunlight exposure boosts production of white blood cells, which helps the body combat disease. Sunlight also increases the number of red blood cells, thereby increasing the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity and improving muscular endurance. Add to that the satisfaction of producing either aesthetically-pleasing ornamental gardens or better yet, the healthy food from organic gardens and there’s a lot to like about about a garden.

Many of these benefits extend to time spent outdoors in natural places too. Finnish researchers in the Journal's study reported: "Findings suggest that even short-term visits to nature areas have positive effects on perceived stress relief compared to built-up environments."

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy. Gardens: cheaper than therapy.

Plant seeds indoors with a bright light source in flats of seed-starting mix according to packet directions. Next separate seedlings when the first true leaves develop, putting individual plants in sixpacks or small pots to enable the plants to develop good root systems. After hardening-off the seedlings and once the soil warms sufficiently the little seedlings can be moved into the garden. But for those who like to start their seeds in the ground, consider the advantage of a little gardener’s helper — seed tapes.

So exactly what are seed tapes and how do you use them? The National Garden Bureau explains that seed tapes are a pre-sown product of single or multiple species of seeds that are already spaced between tissue layers at the correct distance for growing. As well as the simple, linear tape, there is a wide range of other shapes and sizes, such as discs, mats and carpets. Many flower, vegetable or herb seeds can be purchased already incorporated into these products.

Imagine the convenience of planting fine seeds like those of lettuce with seed tapes which eliminate the need to thin out seedlings. Other advantages include: preventing oversowing, especially with crops like lettuce, greens, carrots, wildflowers, etc. The lightweight tape prevents birds from eating freshly-sown seeds. The tape, when covered with additional soil, won’t wash away in a sudden spring downpour, ruining evenly spaced and sown rows. And almost all seed tapes are biodegradable to protect wildlife and have no damaging impact on garden ecosystems. For gardeners experiencing arthritis or other mobility issues, a seed tape is a quick and easy way to sow tiny seeds.

Plus the eco-friendly tapes, discs, mats and carpets are ideal for children of all ages and abilities, says the NGB. They are a quick, easy and fun way to sow and grow your vegetables, herbs or flowers in a variety of environments and conditions. Children learn first-hand how simple, fun and satisfying it is to grow vegetables and herbs from seed. As we all know, children who plant and grow vegetables and herbs are also more likely to eat them.


• Seed tapes — Come in various lengths, single track or multiple tracks, both available with the option of one seed variety or a multiple of seeds – suitable for salad, mixed vegetable and flower collections.

• Seed discs — Small discs, from 8-12cm diameter are for standard flowerpots and are perfect for the indoor herb garden. Larger discs, from 14-30cm diameter are often used for sowing container gardens.

• Seed mats — Ideal for sowing seeds in window boxes, bedding borders and big planters. Sizes vary from as small as a business card up to 3 feet in length.

• Seed carpets — Usually for larger areas where a ready-made “mini garden” is desired. These are great for wildflower fusions, mixed vegetables and salads.


Prepare soil as for any planting. Place seed tapes, discs or mats on the soil and cover with the recommended top layer of soil. The products are well-suited for large empty garden plots as well as fill-ins in tighter locations. They are also ideal for container plantings.

Lynette L. Walther is the recipient of the Garden Writers Association’s Silver Award of Achievement, and she gardens in Camden. Got questions, or comments? Visit her blog, and join in the conversation at: or ”friend” her on Facebook to see what’s new in the garden day-by-day.