SEED BALLS - AN INTRODUCTION - PART A
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Here is how to start if you want to make seed balls. Gather about 25-lbs. of local red or brown clay, like you might use for terracotta pots. Not white or bentonitic gray clay. Mr. Fukuoka is very specific about using red clay as it contains a broad diversity of minerals, especially the iron and manganese minerals. Some gray clays were deposited in anaerobic environments, and may contain sulfides and salts. Local clay is desirable if available, as it may have the local complement of mineral nutrients to which the native plants have already adapted. It is inadvisable to quarry clay in a way that will cause damage or lead to erosion.
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Seed balls sprouting with vegetables and native habitat, Tesuque, New Mexico.
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The finest clay source I have found is by streams that flood and leave pools of still water to evaporate. The mud at the bottom often shrinks as it dries, and cracks into large pieces. At the very end of evaporation, delicate mud curls like broken pottery may form on the drying surface. These natural potsherds contain ceremonial quality clay. Gather them when they are dry. Brush off coarse sand and powder the pieces by grinding between concrete blocks, bricks or stones. The clay needs to be dry and loose. Sift it through a screen to remove large chunks. If there is no local source of clay nearby, you may order terracotta clay from ceramic supply companies.
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Seed balls sprouting in Riverway imprints near Santa Fe, and revegetation by Rio Grande Restoration near Pilar, New Mexico.
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Carefully collect about 5-lbs. of native seeds (grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, trees, etc., everything available from your local ecosystem, and whatever you want to re-introduce into your watershed.) Seeds are adapted to regional conditions of climate and soil. It is best to keep to seeds from your area as they are at home with things as they are and you will not set loose invasive plants that could damage native ecosystems. The best source is from the vicinity of the site itself. Often in natural situations no more than 10% of the seed produced succeeds in establishing itself, due to predators and erosion. By encapsulating seed from the site in seed balls the degree of success is increased geometrically without pesticides. Seed that would have been lost from the site is encouraged to grow instead. This germ plasm should be returned to the site rather than taken away. Finally, learn to propagate native seeds, how to collect, dry, process, and save them.
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All Photographs And Text Copyright (C) 1996 Jim Bones (Unless Otherwise Indicated) Box 101, Tesuque, N.M. 87574 (505-955-0956)
"Light Writings" http://www.seedballs.com

See "The Seed Ball Story' Video Tape
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