[permaculture] Seedballs

Jamie Nicol souscayrous at gmail.com
Mon Jun 18 06:29:56 EDT 2007

Dear Seedballers, we are extraordinary in the way we can complicate anything
into an esoteric art form and it seems that seedballing is no different.

To make seedballs you need seeds, clay soil and water. If you are fortunate
to have a clay rich soil then it only requires some pounding when dry to
produce good quantities of clay after seiving. Seedballs are only made to
protect seeds from predation, therefore colour and mineral content are
irrelevant. Where predation is reduced (a home garden for example) direct
seeding is far more appropriate - like Lunaflora, I would suggest seedballs
for broadscale farming and revegetation.

Seedballs do not have mysterious powers, they are only seeds in a shell
after all. Seedballing mature, stable environments will have little effect
as many people will attest when trying to seedball pastureland. They are
best used in disturbed area, where native vegetation has been largely wiped
out and there is not a diverse seed stock in the ground waiting to

Instructions: 7 parts clay to 1 part seeds, mix seeds into dry clay and then
add water to make a dough (large seeds will often expand when wet and will
crack the seedballs, therefore for peas and beans for example, place in
water 24 hours before making the seedballs). Keep kneading until you have a
pliable dough. Then take half inch (1cm) pieces of the dough and roll them
between your palms until the seedball is round and the surface is shiny.
Then leave to dry and a shaded but airy place until dry. They will germinate
if left in warm, humid conditions. Dry seedballs will keep for many months.

Then just take them to the land to be seedballed and scatter - children are
good at this, if you don't have children handy find your inner child and
have fun. Children in Somalia during a visit Fukuoka made there used
catapults to cast the seedballs.

This is a very good way of making seedballs if you have many hands
available, but slow when working alone. Here is a simple technique that I've
used to make many seedballs when working  with one or two people.  Find a
large plastic barrel which curves inward near the opening and pass a
threaded rod through its base to make a spindle. Then fix washers and nuts
to fix the barrel on the spindle while still allowing it to turn. Thread
crossed pieces of wood on the spindle and down into the barrel and secure to
the barrel close to the base (the sindle is now supported by the hole in the
base of the barrel and the sides of the barrel). Find a post to which to
secure the threaded rod that extends out of the base of the barrel, which
will support the barrel at an angle the allows the seedballs you make inside
to rest in the centre and not fall to the back or fall out the front. Once
the barrel is secured and can be spun on the axis of the spindle add some
seeds, lightly spray with water and then, turning the barrel, add the
powdered clay. Keep the barrel turning, all the while lightly wetting the
growing seedballs and then adding more clay. very soon the seeds will be
well coated with clay. When they are ready they will again be without cracks
and the surface will be shiny (about 10-15 minutes). This way it will only
take a day for enough seeds for several acres to be made.

If you want to become a professional seedballer, you might want to invest in
concrete mixers to do the same job as the platic barrel above. In Greece,
Panos Manikis organised with Fukuoka the seedballing of 10,000 hectares
(25,000 acres) of hillside using six cement mixers. Just remember to remove
the paddles inside, otherwise the technique is just as mentioned above.

Good luck with your seedballing adventures and remember not to be too
impatient, sometimes it is necessary to wait seven years to see the effects
of seedballing.


On 6/17/07, Lunaflora21 at aol.com <Lunaflora21 at aol.com> wrote:
> Hi there. Seedballs, in my experience work better when used on a large
> expanse of area, otherwise they seem to not be worth it, as
> broadcasting  straight
> seed seems to have a higher germination and overall success rate
> for  smaller
> areas (plus, straight seed broadcasting is less input in
> all  aspects).  Size
> of seedball could also determine success rate, and may be  something you
> want
> to experiment with.  With larger seedballs we had  somewhat successful
> germination rates of a few native species (which made for  increased
> biodiversity
> within the seedballs' area, while smaller seedballs had  somewhat higher
> germination rates, and made for more evenly dispersed  biodiversity
> throughout the
> whole area that we seedballed.  We were also  doing seedbombing as
> guerilla
> restoration of vacant lots in our town, so the  smaller seedballs made for
> less
> attention drawn to our activities, but you're  probably not concerned with
> the
> attention aspect.   Also, the  type of clay used may effect the
> germination
> rates.  I would recommend not  using the gray potter's clay, but instead
> using red
> powdered clay (more  nutrients and easier to mix), then mixing in dry
> compost
> and your seeds at the  same time, and then wetting the mixture and balling
> it
> up. Well, hope this  helps...let us know how your project turns out!!
> Would
> love to hear  about your success rates! Good luck to you.
> Katie
> ************************************** See what's free at
> http://www.aol.com.
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