Third Grade gardeners in Mrs. Glover’s, Ms. Cribbs’, and Mrs. Newman’s classes learned about planting seeds using Seed Balls. They then created their own Seed Balls, which will be used to plant seed throughout the garden after Thanksgiving.
Seed Balls were first developed by Japanese farmer and scientist Masanobu Fukuoka, a pioneer in the sustainable agriculture movement. Fukuoka felt that the most important way to preserve soil health and viability was to never till, or turn, the soil, resulting in no loss of soil fertility. Fukuoka’s book, The One-Straw Revolution, explains many of his ideas.
Seed Balls are made by mixing 5 parts powdered red clay (ground by Mrs. Glover’s class) with one part seeds, three parts compost, and a small amount of water. Students mixed these dry ingredients together and then added small amounts of water until the mixture had the consistency of brownie batter. Then they rolled the “dough” into 1/2 inch diameter balls. The balls will dry for a week before planting.
Seed Balls are often used to replant native vegetation in denuded and disturbed land. Seed Balls are scattered across the surface of land, ten balls per square meter, and left to sit. The hard clay protects the seeds from gathering insects, wind and birds until rains come. Then the rain softens the clay, softens the seed coat, and allows roots and shoots to grow down and up.
While Seed Balls can be very effective in reseeding areas that have lost vegetation, it is essential that no non-native seeds be added to seed balls that will be used in wild areas. Only seeds that come from a particular piece of land should be used on that piece of land to prevent non-native and invasive species of plants from overwhelming native species. When non-native plants are introduced to an area, they often replace native plants, effectively removing the foods and sheltering plants that animals need in a habitat.
For more information on Seed Balls, see an excellent video on You Tube — The Seed Ball Story by Jim Bone.