Seed Tape: A Neurotic Vegetable Gardener’s Drug of Choice

April 20, 2014

— The Neurotic Gardener never sleeps —

I do not mind a messy sock drawer, I can leave a bed unmade for days, I discard rejected outfits at the foot of my bed like a petulant teenager, and I have gotten a ‘talking to’ from Mr. Muddy Kitchen on more than one occasion for a used strand of dental floss hardened onto my sink basin like someone’s long lost iPhone 3 charger cord, but dang if I can’t stand a single germinating onion seed flung 1/8″ off course. That just doesn’t work for me.

Hello, my name is Jennifer Solow, and (in addition to my OCC) I am a Neurotic Vegetable Gardener (clap, clap).

— Do I love Seed Tape or what?! —

So, as you might imagine, I am seriously excited about my newfound discovery: Seed Tape. And if you suffer from my particular disorder, you will be too.

Okay, so here’s the deal: the tape comes with pre-measured marks and with adhesive (already on there!) that holds just about any ordinary seed in place. The entire length of tape can be planted in the ground, seeded by you, whenever you feel like it. The tape then dissolves and the seeds are left to do their thing. I mean, hello!?

Why is this so great, you ask?

Imagine – me sitting on my ass, perhaps in my pajamas, in my comfy office, in January, February, March…hell, whenever! I meticulously place my seeds exactly where they need to go, hang them on a hanger in my office closet until I’m ready, then plant, in about 30 seconds, in the garden, in situ. 

This was particularly great this year when April’s normally tolerable outdoor temperature turned unseasonably fra-eeeezing and I found myself amidst the charming snowflakes of, like, FEBRUARY!! Instead of freezing my paws off, I simply tweezed my seeds onto my seed tape, lounged around my fireplace, sipped sherry, lounged some more, then voila — planted my entire spring planting in minutes —  without freezing my rosebuds off.

— Peas are so tempting to plant too close to each other. But no…. 4″ to 6″ away from their buddies. —

— Do I have a problem? Um…it’s not that bad. —

— Brrrr. Run back inside ASAP! —

— Gardens should be organized. Life should not. —

— Rows of Perseo radicchio are nothing if not straight. —

Of course, April food is a lot like November food, with lots of junk from the pantry, the last of the curly butternut squash, duck breasts from the freezer and glasses of yummy red vino. The good part is that I actually adore November food – duck breast, fatty junk, squash-something…all delightful! Even in April.

— Lower in fat than turkey, duck breasts are a delicious freezer staple. —


— Salt. Fat. Duck. A good name for a band? —

Duck breasts should sit in a puddle of salt in a pie plate for a while before searing, or so says Martha, for about 30 minutes, no more. 

— Oh, dear, Martha, how doth we sear a duck breast again? —

I don’t sear duck breasts too frequently so I forget the best way to do it every time. I always return to Martha, who seems to know best when it comes to poultry.  

— It’s spring! Get your rhubarb on! —

 The first think to pop up in my garden is rhubarb. I always do the conventional thing and stew it up with a few strawberries, but the fact is, I love the rhubarb itself and always eat the rhubarb blobs out and forget about the other stuff. Rhubarb is divine.

— When it’s un-springlike outside, do you tape inside.”

It’s April. Too cold to plant. Too cold to get dressed. Too cold to wake up too much.



2 6-ounce duck breasts
A fair puddle of coarse sea salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small shallot, finely diced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
7 ounces Bing cherries or a few spoonfuls of jam from the pantry
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
10 twists on the black pepper mill
1/2 tablespoon very cold unsalted butter

— It’s always nice to have everything mis en place…in it’s place. —

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Take the duck out of the fridge 60 minutes before you want to use it. Cover the breasts in salt and let them sit for 30 minutes in a pie pan. Transfer the duck to the freezer for another 30 minutes.
Brush as much of the salt off the duck as possible. Score the fat on top of the duck in a crosshatch pattern, carefully to score only the fat and not the flesh beneath it. 
Preheat a small cast iron skillet on medium heat. Place the duck, skin-side-down, in the hot pan and leave it alone for 10 to 12 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and the fat has rendered.

— Sear ’em up! —

Take the pan off the heat, and turn the duck breasts over and let them “kiss” the pan—or so says Thomas Keller. Spoon the excess fat into a heat-proof container and keep for frying potatoes or spreading on whatever.
Put the duck, skin-side-up in the pan, in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. The internal temperature will be about 135°F. Let the duck breasts rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing.
To make a sauce for the duck, heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and the shallots. Sauté for 1 minute, just to soften the shallots. Add the wine, stock, and jam from the pantry. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the balsamic vinegar, salt to taste, and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the honey and the cold butter.

— Do something friendly while the duckies wait. —

Slice the duck. Pour the sauce onto a pretty plate and arrange the slices of duck on top. 

— Spring dinners as as yummy as Autumn ones. —


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }


So happy you and the muddy kitchen have had your somewhat relaxing indoor winter. The snow should be gone and the wonderful seed tapes doing their thing without your constant supervision. I love the idea of sitting around a fire preplanting your garden while the outside gets underneath yet another blanket. See you soon. Can’t wait! Great reason to see us all.


nigel carr

sherry & seedtape. good combo.
try sauterne & rhubarb 😉



I love the seed tape idea…and the duck looks great!



Glad you’re back!


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