Third grade classes spent a rainy December afternoon making seedballs to plant in their Native Plant/Kumeyaay garden in January. Seedballs are a mixture of native clay, compost, water, and seeds invented by Permaculture pioneer, Masanobu Fukuoka. Fukuoka believed that soil’s nutritive integrity is best preserved through as little cultivation as possible. He experimented with different ways of growing plants with as little digging and soil disturbance as possible. Seedballs are a way to plant without digging. Seeds are embedded in hard native soil which is enhanced with nutritious (to plants) compost, and laid on top of the soil. When rains come, the clay melts, the seed sprouts, and the compost nourishes it until it can reach its roots down into the ground. During the time that the seedball is on the ground, the seeds are protected from harvester ants and other insects and animals that collect and eat seeds. Thus, Fukuoka believed, a greater yield was possible.
Last year we tried using seedballs with mixed results. This year, we’ll see how many sprout in areas where we have lots of water, less water, and no water except rain.