Guess what time of year it is????? It’s veggie garden time of year. Since the blog began, I have been writing about herbs, veggies, fruits and planting. It has become a real passion of mine in recent years. In fact in the last 3 years there have been two summers where our family barely had to buy vegetables or herbs because in our very small backyard a 9′ x 4′ vegetable garden sustained us all summer long. Now, at our new home, we have a little more property so we are really going to blow it out this year. I plan on having potted herbs right by the kitchen door on the back porch, and then in the side yard we are going to have all kinds of vegetables. Here’s the good news – even though we will be going BIGGER this year, the workload will be easier because of an ingenious new company called Seedsheets. Middlebury graduate Cameron MacKugler came up with this idea while spending time at a friends farm one weekend. It is GMO-free, organic, locally sourced, and easy to use. The nutshell is that it’s a garden that comes pre-made on a large recyclable sheet. Seeds are inside small biodegradable gel pods which are embedded in a little cup of soil. After being exposed to water for 30 seconds the gel pods dissolve and the seeds start to germinate in the soil below. The plants grow and the sheet prevents unwanted weeds from growing up into them so you almost never have to weed. It’s genius! And the kicker, they are made 100% in VT – one of my two favorite states. If you are looking for a really innovative, fun, and all-natural way to get outside and do something great for your family this year then Seedsheets is your answer!
Q&A with Cameron MacKugler, Founder, Seedsheet
What is a Seedsheet?
The Seedsheet is the perfect roll-out garden. It features a weed-blocking fabric that is embedded with the optimal arrangement of dissolvable pods, with each pod containing a buffer of soil and select organic nonGMO seeds. The Seedsheet is simply placed on top of prepared soil, and watered, for the perfectly designed weedless garden that’s “planted” in 30-seconds.
How do Seedsheets work?
Seedsheets take the guesswork out of gardening, because every plant is spaced exactly where it should be, near beneficial plants and away from competitive plants. Once customers receive their Seedsheet, either from a store or direct from our website, they simply unroll the sheet on top of their prepared garden soil, secure it with the included stakes, and start watering. The pods will dissolve in under a minute, and the seeds will sprout and grow through the aligned openings in the weed barrier. No seeding, no weeding, no problem.
Why are they easier/better than traditional garden?
Seedsheets are better than traditional gardens because they are accessible and incredibly intuitive, and make it easy for complete novices to successfully grow their own food. For the aspiring gardener, there are a lot of barriers to starting your first garden; what plants to use, where to place them, how far apart to space them, and then the time-intensive process of planting and weeding. Because Seedsheets are pre-fabricated with ideal arrangements of plants designed with companion planting and intercropping, we condense the entire planting process into the unrolling of a sheet! The most exciting aspect of the Seedsheet is its ability to enable even the most inexperienced amateur to grow a massive harvest. We recently teamed up with a local high school to test large-scale Seedsheets for commercial growth, and the photo speaks for itself.
Do you have set grids or can people personalize their sheets with plants they want?
Currently we offer 17 different products on our website, which range from herb gardens, to pizza sheets, to salad sheets, to smoothie sheets, and beyond. However our original goal with the Kickstarter campaign that quite literally kickstarted this company, was to offer customizable Seedsheets. As we scaled and better understood the difficulties associated with fielding thousands of custom orders at a time, we chose to simplify our product line and launch with the 17 pre-designed sheets. Even with our current line, we carry over 46 different types of plants, veggies, herbs, flowers and fruit, so it’s a pretty massive selection! We do plan on offering customizable Seedsheets in the future, and are developing the software platform to generate those orders.
What’s the deal with weeding?
Ahhhh weeding, the bane of gardeners everywhere… When I was a kid I would spend afternoons with my grandfather and help him out with his massive gardens. We would take old rug scraps, place them on the soil, cut X’s in them, and then transplant seedlings into each hole. The Seedsheet borrows grandpa’s inventiveness, but instead of hideous shag carpet, we use a hydrophilically-treated weed blocking fabric.
Our recyclable fabric is multi-purpose:
- Obviously stopping weeds (yay!), so goodbye back-breaking labor!
- Black fabric warms the soil for better early-season germination
- Micro-punctured surface allows water to filter through gradually which reduces erosion
- Breathable fabric lets air pass through which removes the soil rot and mold that plagues black-plastic
- No weeds means your plants won’t compete for space, nutrients, or water resulting in larger, healthier and happier plants
- No weeds = you water your plants instead of your weeds = you save water!
- Plus it’s #5 recyclable
Are your seeds Non-GMO?
You betchya. We are super excited to have teamed up with the very best seed company in the country, High Mowing Organic Seed Company, which as an added benefit, is located up the road from us here in Vermont.
Why should more people grow/eat from their own gardens?
There are a lot of answers to that question, and I could respond with the typical fear-mongering approach of “GMOs are awful and will cause your children to have 12 fingers and three eyes”… but that’s not why we created the Seedsheet. Yes we do offer organic nonGMO seeds, but our main goal is to simply enable more people to successfully grow their own healthy food. Transparency is a crucial driver for starting your own garden, and we want to help consumers know where their food comes from, what pesticides have been used on it, and how far it has travelled to get your plate.Yes there is general mistrust of the corporations that are cooking our food, yes most ingredients on a nutrition label are impossible to pronounce, yes you can eat a New Zealand apple in the middle of winter thats jacked-up with preservatives, but the most obvious epiphany is: YES homegrown food just plain tastes better! It tastes better because of the pride associated with raising it from seed to plate, it tastes better because you know what went into it, it tastes better because your 3-year old picked it, and it tastes better because it was grown in the ground and not in a lab. Buy a tomato from the grocery store, and buy a tomato from a farmers market… which one tastes better? Plants that are grown in the ground, fed by the sun, and are fertilized by companion plants just taste better. With Seedsheet, we’re helping you put a farmers’ market on your windowsill, porch, yard or rooftop.
What are the easiest things to keep alive?
Our 1’x3′ Herb Seedsheet has been a customer favorite, not only for the delicious herbs it provides, but because it’s a fighter! We stress-tested the product by growing one in a Brooklyn apartment without any operable windows, and despite the lack of fresh air the basil, cilantro, parsley, and dill absolutely blew up and provided a years-worth of garnish. Another cool aspect of the Seedsheet, and our amazing relationship with High Mowing Seeds, is that we’ve specifically sourced the fastest DTM (days-to-maturity) plants possible. For instance, the three tomato varieties that we carry (golden, glacier, and moskvich) are all ready for harvest in 60-days or less, disproving the old-wives-tale that you can’t grow tomatoes direct from seed. If we can grow them here in our facility in Vermont, you can grow them most anywhere!