[permaculture] Seedballs

Robyn Francis erda at nor.com.au
Sun Jun 24 18:49:42 EDT 2007

Seedballing was primarily designed to use when one wants to sow seed long in
advance of substantial rains. Fukuokas grain fields are technically paddies,
designed to be periodically flooded according to crop cycle requirements,
such as knocking back weed growth and triggering the germination of pelleted

One of the advantages of pelleting (as opposed to direct broadcasting) is
that the clay helps reduce seed loss from birds, rodents, ants etc while
you're waiting for rain. The other advantage is that seeds will only
germinate well with substantial rain which will sustain stronger initial
growth post-germination due to the moisture stored in the soil.

Another process you could try is to simply thinly coat the seed - similar to
inoculating legume seeds. Moisten the seed (approx half litre water to 2kg
seed) and stir through the powdered clay - keep adding clay until the seeds
are separate and have a thin coating. If bird or rodent theft is an issue
you could add some powdered distasteful substance to the clay such as
wormwood, derris dust etc.

Another thing I've tried successfully is to hand broadcast seed into the
standing vegetation/grass then mow the grass after sowing - the mown grass
covers the seed as a thin mulch which reduces theft and improves germination


On 16/6/07 9:05 PM, "Dieter Brand" <diebrand at yahoo.com> wrote:

> 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 didn¹t
>   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 didn¹t 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, don¹t 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 can¹t
>   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 can¹t 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
>   wouldn¹t 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
> Linda Shewan <linda.shewan at bryn.com.au> wrote:  Have you had experience with
> seedballing? We are going to seedball the
> understorey of our wildlife corridor and there doesn't seem to be much
> information on how successful it usually is. I have heard some very
> negative outcomes and I don't want to get the kids too excited if a
> reasonable percentage don't take. Although they will love the process
> anyway!
> Anyway, I would love to hear any real life success (or otherwise)
> stories you have about this.
> Thanks, Linda
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Primal Parent [mailto:primalparent at hotmail.com]
> Sent: Saturday, 16 June 2007 8:52 AM
> To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] Politics and Permaculture
> right, which is why i originally put quotation marks around the word
> "society". which has both good connotations (i like to socialize, or a
> social gathering) and bad connotations (socialism, socialist). from an
> anthropological standpoint cities are sedentary populations of people so
> large that they require the importation of resources. sedentary groups
> of 
> people in collectives small enough to be self-sufficient are not cities
> but 
> rather villages, and towns falling inbetween as a transition category.
> for 
> me, permaculture is about re-establishing villages i.e.
> self-sufficiency,
> not dependency on the government (or not dependent on an established
> social 
> order). i appologize to all if this appears as a semantical argument but
> for 
> me i am trying to make a point that it is the social system that is
> inheritently flawed and therefore no benevolent enlightened ruler
> (nader, 
> kucinnich, etc) can "fix it". this is why i included the howard zinn
> quote. 
> the greatest lie or myth of our culture is that our political system is
> the 
> most advance, free, enlightened in the history of mankind. once you
> believe 
> that, then you believe you are fortunate to be a part of it (in other
> words...DEPENDENT). it is an un-natural system that is imposed via
> suspended 
> violence and as such can not be compatible with permaculture, in my
> view. i 
> am withdrawing from the "politics is permaculture" argument and will
> attempt 
> to steer the discussion back to real important issues like seedballing
> and 
> foraging.
> -best wishes
>> From: permafrog at riseup.net
>> Reply-To: permaculture
>> To: "permaculture"
>> Subject: Re: [permaculture] Politics and Permaculture
>> Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 04:58:24 -0700 (PDT)
>> Greetings, > "but when those same people are allowed to self-govern
> within
>> the limits > of their bioregion, then history has shown that they will
>> evolve to a > "societal > balance" in regards to their ecosystem.
>> sometimes referred to as "climax".
>> That is a way and one that I support of doing this: Politics is how we
>> order society and meet the needs of society's members."
>> The word "politics" comes from Middle French politique, "political"
> from
>> Latin politicus "of citizens" or "the state, civil, civic," from Greek
>> politikos "of citizens or the state", from polites, "citizen", from
> polis,
>> "city".
>> Perhaps we need to work with the original meaning of the word rather
> than
>> a reinterpretation.
>> Bob
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