In this Topic:

Seed Sources
List of independent companies, exchanges and organisations that supply rare, heritage and open-pollinated seeds.

Corporate Control
Why the chemical corporations took the production of seeds, the effects of hybridisation and patent laws.

Seed Saving
How to save, harvest and store your own seeds.

Also see:
Little Known Food Crops

Featured Projects:

Association Kokopelli
In defence of biodiversity

Plants for a Future
Rare and marvellous plants.

Primal Seeds exists as a network to actively engage in protecting biodiversity and creating local food security.

It is a response to industrial agriculture, the control of the seed supply and of our food.



Seed Balls



E-mail this article

Bookmark this page

Printer-friendly version
Join us on our discussion groups, to leave your reactions, comments and questions.

Seed balls are a method for distributing seeds by encasing them in a mixture of clay and soil humus. Some native North American tribes used forms of seed balls. More recently natural farmer Masanobu Fukuoka has applied them, as have others inspired by his work.

Seed balls are simply scattered direct onto ground, and not planted. They could be useful for seeding dry, thin and compacted soils and for reclaiming derelict ground. This method takes a fraction of the time or cost of other methods to cover large areas and is also very applicable in small areas.

The clay and humus ball prevents the seeds from the drying out in the sun, getting eaten by predators like mice and birds, or from blowing away. When sufficient rain has permeated the clay and the seeds inside sprout they are protected within the ball that contains nutrients and beneficial soil microbes. Seed balls are particularly useful in dry and arid areas where rainfall is highly unpredictable.


Seed Mixtures
Seed balls usually contain a mixture of seeds. For reclaiming derelict ground or reforestation a wide selection of appropriate species are used. Mixtures can also be used for setting up edible systems that include seed of nitrogen-fixing plants and companion plants.

Mixtures are used for experimentation, some things will fail to establish themselves; those that succeed will be the most suitable for that location. Much can be learned by observation of results. The making of seed balls is very easy, but choosing the right species to include is not so obvious and the introduction of non-native species should always be carried out with thought and care.

Fukuoka recommends red clay because it contains more minerals, especially iron and manganese, than most gray clays. Depending on needs and location choosing local clay, that is the basis of local soil and contains local microorganic life, may have good results.

Compost or humus reach soil is required. Compost from your own local soil is best, as it contains local soil microorganisms.

Making seed balls
Use approximately 2 parts seed to 3 parts of dry sifted compost and 5 parts of powdered red clay. Mix in well, then gradually add water until the right constancy is reached for rolling into balls of about a half-inch in diameter. (Number of seeds per ball will vary depending on seed size). Seed balls are then left outside to dry, and can then be scattered or stored long term until needed.

Application rate
A minimum of ten seed balls per square metre, a higher density may be required to reclaim derelict land.

Do not water seed balls they will absorb water from the ground, dew, rain and the air around them and sprout when the time is right.

Further Reading:

'For the Liberation of Seeds and Humus, A Manifesto for Survival'
by 'Association Kokopelli.'
A powerful indictment of the forces leading to crop varietal extictions and laws that have forced an inspirational French seed company to stop trading.
'Biodiversity Threat'
by Hope Shand
The steamroller of modern monoculture and factory farming is sweeping away our crop and domestic livestock diversity, putting future food production at risk.
'Everything not permitted is forbidden'
by Jeremy Cherfas
In Europe, one set of legislation applies to giant intensive farmers and small home gardeners. That is why Europe's losses of genetic diversity are probably among the most severe in the developed world.
'Rescuing Traditional Food Crops'
by Kent Wealy
founder of the US Seed Savers Exchange.
We are going to need all the genetic resources we can possibly muster to overcome what we are going to face in the future.
'The Importance of Diversity and Pressures for Uniformity.'
2 Chapters from Heritage Vegetables, The Gardeners Guide to Cultivating Diversity.
by Sue Strickland.
Many characteristics of our wild crops and old varieties are as yet unnoticed, unvalued, unrecognied or uneeded. These qualities may be vitally importnat in the future.
'Earmarked for Extinction, Seminis Eliminates 2,000 Varieties.'
Report by Rural Foundation International.
Announcement by Seminis, the world's largest vegetable seed corporation, that it would eliminate 2,000 varieties - or 25% of its total product line - as a cost-cutting measure.


Enter your email address to receive site updates.