[permaculture] Seedballs

Linda Shewan linda.shewan at bryn.com.au
Sun Jun 17 07:36:53 EDT 2007


Thanks Dieter,

I have no option but to try the clay covered option as broadcast sowing
simply feeds the crows/ravens, magpies, sparrows, currawongs, cockatoos
and countless other winged friends. And a covering of straw/hay has no
impact except providing light entertainment for the birds... 

When we get this project going I will report back on our success rate.
It's a school project that will hopefully be grant funded so we will be
recording the results.

Cheers, Linda

-----Original Message-----
From: Dieter Brand [mailto:diebrand at yahoo.com] 
Sent: Saturday, 16 June 2007 9:05 PM
To: permaculture
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Seedballs

Linda,
   
  Last fall and the year before, I did some tests with seedballs in
parallel 
  with the direct broadcasting of seeds. I found that it either didn't 
  work at all, or that the seedball plots germinated much later than the
  directly seeded plots.
   
  Going by the discussions on the Fukuoka farming group, this is
probably
  similar to what a lot of people experience, since one usually never
hears
  from people again who announce that they are going to try it.
   
  The problem I found was that the seeds in the seedballs didn't
germinate
  with light rain, at a time when the directly broadcast seeds had
already 
  germinated. When the rain would get stronger, the clay would be washed

  away, and the seeds, I had taken so much trouble to enclose in the
clay 
  balls, where laying on the ground just as the directly broadcast
seeds, 
  except that the latter had germinated much sooner. I live in a
semi-arid 
  region in the South of Portugal, where the climate is very different
from 
  the humid climate encountered by Fukuoka in Japan. This may account 
  for some of the problems I had.
   
  If you do give it a try, don't use the mesh-method. I went to great 
  expense to buy 3 differently graded metal meshes and fix them to
  wooden frames. It was extremely messy and took ages just to 
  pellet a handful of seeds. It is amazing that Fukuoka should have
  included this method in his book, which he very obviously can't
  have tested himself.
   
  For a small-scale test use a large bowl (or tray) with a smooth inner 
  surface, throw in a handful of seeds and about 3 to 5 times that 
  amount of finely pulverized clay (you need to smash dry clay, then 
  pass it through a fine sieve so as to get rid of all stones); then one

  person needs to swing the bowl around (great for your belly muscles), 
  so that the contents will roll along the inner side-surfaces of the 
  bowl (back and forth with the tray), while another persons adds water 
  little by little (best to use a spraying device of some sort). After a

  while the pellets will form. It usually can't be avoided that some 
  pellets contain more than one seed.
   
  For growing a crop by this method one needs some sort of revolving
  drum device like a concrete mixer without the inner shovels. But I 
  wouldn't go to the expense of building one before testing if I want 
  to use the seedball method on a regular base.
   
  Once I get a little more time, I will give it another try since the
  pelleting of seeds allows for a much more flexible seeding schedule.
  Right now, I can only use direct broadcasting from 15 Nov. until
  the end of March because of the ants. I can use mulch to protect 
  the seeds against birds, while rodents and other wee creatures only 
  take a small part, but the ants will get every single seed even under 
  a layer of mulch.
   
  Dieter Brand
  Portugal



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