Posted on 26 February 2011 by

Planting Tomatoes: The Epic Tale of the Paper, Hand and the Seed

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Many years ago I discovered the epic tell of the paper, hand, and seed.

While it is not as impressive as the movie Titanic or as classical as Romeo and Juliet it still weaves a level of intrigue that only horticulture can bring to the big screen.

One may wonder how can paper, a hand, and seed weave a tale that could be compared to such great stories as those mentioned and the answer is it deals with dilemma that every gardener faces when it comes time to start seed.

The dilemma I refer to how deep to plant the seed.

Every spring the excited gardener gets out the equipment needed to start the first seed of the New Year. They fill the flats with soil, write the tags out, organize the seed packets, and start to plant. Some may purchase a store-bought seeder to handle those seemingly microscopic seeds that seem to be impossible to plant at the proper depth.

Some individuals may choose to wing it and cast caution into the wind along with their seed. This approach only works for the very lucky and always at most produces poor results as far as germination rate. But through my many years as a gardener and agricultural teacher I have developed a technique that makes planting very small seed easy and full of success.

Supplies needed for this project

  • Piece of paper 4inch by 4 inch
  • Tomato seeds
  • Flat
  • Soil


1. Take piece of paper and fold in half. Place on table and crease paper with thumbnail.
2. Fill flat with soil and tap down.
3. Slightly open fold and place tomato seed down in crack.
4. Gently tap paper with finger and slowly move down flat.
5. Cover with ¼-inch of soil.
6. Water in

This simple seeding tool aids in planting one seed at a time if used correctly and moved slowly across the soil. This technique requires practice but it is well worth the effort not only in the time it saves from not having to reseed but also it also produces healthier seedlings.

So as the story of the paper, hand, and seed continues the turning point of the story is when the process of seeding is over and the supplies are put away. What does this mean for the characters of this epic story? The paper is recycled, the hand swings away and the seeds grow up to be mature tomato plants that grow up in a beautiful garden with the hopes and dreams of being the star on the salad plate.

So until we blog again, The tell of the paper, hand, and seed may not be a bedtime read, but it will save the day from planting time to and keep cost at bay. So this year try your own epic tale of the paper, hand, and seed will prevail.

One Response to “Planting Tomatoes: The Epic Tale of the Paper, Hand and the Seed”

  1. Best Gardening Blogs This Week Says:

    […] Planting Tomatoes: The Epic Tale of the Paper, Hand and the Seed Mindy shares her method for planting small seeds. No expensive equipment is required. […]

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