As a permaculture instructor and eco-restoration practitioner, one of the most entertaining things I participate in is making seed bombs or seed balls. After years of helping scout troops and science classes it is still fun to make and distribute them.
Making seed balls is actually an ancient farming practice that helped prevent seed from being consumed by rodents and birds after it was broadcasted. It was brought to modern awareness by a Japanese agronomist and organic farmer Masanobu Fukuoka. He authored a book One Straw Revolution that in the 1970’s and described the theory and practice of using seed bombs among other organic farming:
“A difficulty with Fukuoka’s non-plowing, direct-seeding method planting is that exposed seeds become prey to birds and animals. By casting the seeds amidst a standing crop and covering them with straw, the birds can be kept at bay, but moles, crickets, slugs, and mice present another problem. For many years Fukuoka thwarted foraging insects and rodents by pelletizing his seeds, that is, by encasing them in clay. Pelletizing seeds also
keeps them from rotting if the season is unusually wet. However, by keeping a natural balance in the animal kingdom Fukuoka now seldom needs to coat his seeds, thus eliminating another task.”
Source: The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation.
As permaculture is all about creative innovation in sustainable gardening and restoration methods, seed balls/bombs have become a popular technique in natural gardening and farming circles and permaculture.
Work experience and research has shown me the many ways and situations to use seed balls.
Caron Wenzel is an Environmental Educator, writer, and owner of Blazing Star Inc., a 27-year-old native plant seed nursery, soil amendment and environmental consulting business. Visit her website at Blazing-Star.com.