Seedballs are basically lumps of soil protecting seeds inside them. These balls can be thrown away or rolled down to the place we wish to grow the seeds. Continuous watering or rains will dissolve the soil around the seeds and give them a medium to establish themselves. The use of seedballs eliminates tilling or any other kind of land preparation for sowing, and thus protects the micro life in the soil and saves time and labour.
The simplicity and effectiveness of seedballs was popularised by Masanobu Fukuoka in his practice and teachings of natural farming. Fukuoka believed that seedballs have the potential of turning deserts into forests.
This is simple way of making seedballs adapted from the Fukuoka’s recipe with additions from Rico Zook (i-permaculture.com).
Red clayey soil (the more red the better. white or grey clays can become brittle and disintegrate easily on drying)
Aged cow manure (if available) / Compost
Red Chlllie powder
1. Mix 5 parts finely sifted dry red clayey soil with 3 parts finely sifted compost or aged manure.
(It is important to sieve the soil and the compost to make nice firm seedballs.)
2. Add 1 part finely sifted ash (wood ash/volcanic ash). Ash is a great source of minerals for the young sprouts.
3. Add a little red chilli powder to protect the seedballs from being eaten by animals, or pecked on by birds.
4. In this mix, add 1 part of seeds. (we mix different kinds of seeds together. A single seedball can have several seeds and of several kinds depending on their size and shape).
5. Mix thoroughly.
6. Keep adding little water as you mix until the soil and the seeds start lumping together.
7. Make small , firm balls or dumplings or pellets and leave them to dry in shade (sun drying could cause cracking of the clay).
8. These seedballs can be broadcasted by hand or a catapult. The number of seedballs being thrown in an area will depend on the seeds and the purpose.
9. Water once daily or wait for the rains and watch the seeds sprouting magically from the disintegrated balls.