Saturday, February 13, 2010

permaculture-seed balls

In the true laziness of hippies we have been trying to increase production from the land while reducing our work load. The only way we can possibly do this is through using more permaculture practices. M. Fukuoka is the person given credit to for this style of gardens or growing techniques. It is more often associated with large areas of barren lands in an attempt to get the land back in shape after logging or strip mining etc. We are using it to balance out our environment more than anything (bugs, insects, critters n birds), along with trying to see what will grow where as well as erosion control and true laziness.

We thought it would be a good way to use us some older seeds(veggies) and experiment with squash and herbs as well as a few grains, grasses, wildflowers and other flowers. All total we tossed in about 100 types of seeds. Unfortunately our experiment in this was a complete failure.We had fifteen inches of rain as the seeds were germinating  and we lost  most everything that we had in the ground at the time, seed balls  included.  Needless to say we will be trying this again in the near future  as we could tell if it hadn't have been for the deluge, it would have worked.

Here is a  good book on the subject, written by Masanobu Fukuoka.

Here is a good video on the subject however the quality is not very good. Its pretty old in the video world.

We had our own photo tutorial  of us making our seed balls unfortunately we lost them when we had a computer crash.

How to Make Seed Balls

Seed balls are one-half inch diameter models of the living world containing all the seeds for a complete habitat, wild or domestic garden, or both in one. Hundreds of kinds of seeds, soil humus, dry soil from your landscape and sand form the solid components of seed balls. When mixed with water and rolled into balls, they become little adobe gardens. They are cost effective, hundreds of times faster to apply and can be made by anyone anywhere in the world where there is soil and seed.


Step 1: Gather your materials
  • 3 parts dry humus, from compost with live mycorrhizal fungi soil inoculates
  • 1 part dry mixed seeds, assortment of all desired native plants
  • 5 parts soil from your landscape, dried and sifted
  • 1 to 2 parts dry fine sand, cleaned and sifted (if clay does not have a little sand)
  • 1 to 2 parts water

Step 2:. Sift dry soil through a sifter to eliminate lumps.

Step 3: Measure out one part seeds to three parts of compost to five parts of soil. Thoroughly stir the seeds in a large container, cover with dry soil humus from compost, then add dry soil and mix well. If local soil does not have a little sand in it, you may want to add some aggregate strength sand. Add water gradually until a firm, suitable consistency is reached for rolling the soil into half-inch diameter balls.

Step 4: Pinch off wet soil from the main mass and roll between the palms of the hands until smooth and round. After a few seconds the soil can be felt to set up or organize, as the tiny clay platelets align themselves to each other and seeds as they enclose. It is important to roll the balls until this polymerization is felt, for then the ball will dry with structural integrity. Finished seed balls must dry undisturbed for approximately 24 hours.

Step 5: Once they are dry, seed balls may be stored in a cool, dry place or they may be broadcast immediately after drying and allowed to lay dormant in place until released by rain. SEED BALLS DO NOT NEED TO BE BURIED OR WATERED. Seed balls are perfectly content to simply lay about "sleeping" until the right amount of rain falls. When rains come, no matter where a seed ball has landed, something from the mix inside will be at home on the spot, so all possible habitat bases are covered in one broadcast application.

Step 6: Protected from predatory insects, rodents, birds and other animals, seed balls lie dormant until sufficient rains fall to start their germination. Then hundreds of sprouts explode from each ball as they eagerly reach for the sun. Enjoy your wildflower garden and use seed balls for future wildflower planting.

A minimum application seeks a scatter density of at least 10 seed balls per square meter. Adequate coverage requires at least .2 grams of seeds per seed ball, or 2 grams of seeds per square meter. Restoration requires at least 3 grams of seeds per square meter. Between 8 and 12 kilograms, or 20 to 30 pounds of mixed seeds are required per acre.

You roll all the forces of nature into seed balls when you make them, they have tremendous regenerative powers and they can be of great benefit. But used carelessly or wantonly, seed balls can cause irreparable biological disruption by effectively introducing alien species into a habitat with no means of coping with rampant invaders. The world is already host to numerous incidents of introduced exotic species that have radically altered native landscapes everywhere. Be careful of which seeds you choose and where you scatter them. We strongly recommend using only native species.
Photography by In Churl Yo. Text by Jessica Tipple and Andrea Delong-Amaya. This step-by-step was adapted from Wildflower magazine.

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to make an observation: all seedballs amount to is man-made herbivore droppings. ;)