[permaculture] why - On Seedballs

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Tue May 31 23:17:13 EDT 2011

why - On Seedballs

On Seedballs

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Restoration projects worldwide

"...[Wherever] there are seeds missing in the soil. All you have to do 
is sow seeds.
- Panos Manikis

"[It] is not just for growing [plants], it is for the cultivation and 
the perfection of human being"
- Masanobu Fukuoka


     1 Why restoring, re-greening, regenerate ?
     2 Why using seedballs in restoration ?

Why restoring, re-greening, regenerate ?
The following that may help you to understand, This is all taken from 
Integrative Design Collaborative.

Limiting the Damage (still Degenerating)

     High Performance Design

     Design that realizes high efficiency and reduced impact in the 
building structure, operations, and site activities. By focusing on 
technical efficiency, this design approach may limit embracing the 
larger natural system benefits.

     Green Design

     A general term implying a direction of improvement in design- i.e., 
continual improvement towards a whole and healthy integration of human 
activities with natural systems. Some people believe this is more 
applicable to buildings and technology.


     Sustainable Design

     See "Green Design" with an emphasis on reaching a point of being 
able to sustain the health of the planet's organisms and systems over 
time. Sustainability is an inflection point from degenerating to 
regenerating health.


     Restorative Design

     This approach thinks about design in terms of using the activities 
of design and building to restore the capability of local natural 
systems to a healthy state of self organization.Regenerative Design - 
This starts with place-based design. By engaging all the key 
stakeholders and processes of the place – humans, earth systems, and the 
consciousness that connects and energizes them– the design process 
builds the capability of the people to engage in continuous and healthy 
relationship. There is continuous learning and feedback so that all 
aspects of the system are an integral part of the process of life in 
that place – co-evolution.

     Whole System Integration Process

     A process that seeks to optimize (make the best use of) the 
relationships among key systems and entities in the service of desired 
objectives. It's not a system if it doesn't have a purpose.This process 
typically requires that the smallest unit of design be the largest 
manageable watershed within which the project resides. If we only work 
within the property boundaries, we are missing the point.

     Sustainability, as currently practiced, addresses generalized and 
planetary issues by limiting the intensity of the damage we cause.
     Regeneration is local in practice, and addresses how we partner and 
thrive in relationship with the unique social-ecological system of each 


Why using seedballs in restoration ?


- Seedballs are a seed propagation method that are part of the no-till 
agricultural movement. As such their use minimally disturbs the soil 
ecology and structure. They preserve mycelia mats, bacteria populations 
characteristics, and let the earthworms earthworming in peace.

- The seeds propagated in seedballs are not eaten by insects, birds, 
rodents like seeds propagated solely on the ground can be. This leads to 
enhanced success rate.

- The seeds propagated in seedballs are not blown away by the wind like 
seeds propagated solely on the ground can be.

- Many agronomic techniques and improvement  involve some sorts of seed 
pelleting to improve germination rate, water/nutrients transfers, to 
optimize  germination timing, to improve handling, to fit machines (yes, 
yes see lettuce seeds...) etc.



- The main concern raised by people when introduced to the concept is 
that seedballs use a lot of seeds.

Let me write why I think it this is not a problem:

In ecological restoration where a lot of native species are used, and 
seeds often hard to come by, nursery workers/volunteers feel that they 
have to make sure that most seeds become plants that will produce seeds. 
By very often over-pampering plants in native nurseries, they likely 
send weak genes into the environment...
What you want to propagate in the environment when restoring ecosystems 
is high quality information - stored in DNA - as well as long term 
relationships - by focusing on above and below ground mutualisms.

Using seedballs is understanding that loosing seedlings is OK. Aiming 
for a 100% success rate in restoration is mad at best:

     It is a result of equating restoration to horticulture.
     It is a result of simplistic anthropomorphism.

Imagine reallocating some nursery resources and volunteer time to seed 
collection, sorting, treatment and seedball making....

- Seedballs are associated with guerilla gardenning not enough with 
farming and restoration ecology...*

*I received a message from someone that did misunderstoond my point so I 
just want to clarify:

I am just reporting the fact that people mostly associate seedballs and 
guerilla gardening, not enough with farming and ecological restoration.

I agree with the fact that isolated actions (as rolling seedballs on 
your dinner table, with some friends and good music) can have an 
interesting impact on the whole system.

Nevertheless, I deeply feel that seedballs have a tremendous potential 
in urban edible/medicinal landscape design, ecological restoration  and 

What I complain about is not the fact that seedballs are associated with 
guerilla gardening, but that they are mainly associated with it.

It makes of seedballs a very marginal propagation method, seemingly used 
by people that think alike, look alike and vote alike.

Extracting seedballs out of the stereotypes generated by the words 
"guerilla gardening" is what I try to do.

When you propagate seeds outside of your property (although that could 
also be discussed) you become responsible of the consequences of that 
ecological alteration.

This has to be carefully studied and planned. I've read about people 
propagating mustard in California where it is a WEED.

Besides, one has to be very careful when changing things around without 
the awareness/consent of the other beings sharing the same space.

It think that it is not polite; obtaining permission is more desirable.

Well that is a personal point of view.

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