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food forest from seed balls?

 
                            
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great reading about the different methods here

now, i think perhaps a 'food forest' out of seed balls would be difficult but what about say turning a lawn area into a more fertile realm (to establish conditions for a FF) using seed balls - using beneficial and strong plants to take over the lawn? it would take some time though....

and Paul is, I think, right on there - Fukuoka would always time his seed balling...Interesting that Paul had success moreso with direct seeding. I love that footage of Sepp just throwing seeds from a bucket and then going on a treasure hunt to see what made it. But, like Maikeru, I would have endless bird/pest issues

Mark - I didn't quite understand the third method - could you explain a bit further?

 
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Totally doable, IMO. Choose and select plants which can slug it out, coexist with, and survive the grass. Clovers, weedy edible things, strawberries, etc. I would try to tilt it more in favor of seedballs and other plants as well. Mulch or compost usually helps (unless it's like wood chips or shavings...can be too low in N, use on already established plantings and walkways or to compost). That'll slow the grass for a while until it pushes up and through, and give time for seedlings to establish. When the grass does come up, chop 'n' drop as further mulch. I think direct seeding works well if the seeds have places to hide and obscure them, such as in leaf litter, debris, etc. The seedball itself is a hiding place.
 
                            
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ah yes! duh! - mulching as well as seed balls would work great!
 
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I was thinking along the seed ball line to improve the very limited pasture lands for my goats and geese. Would it be feasable to let them create seed balls by adding the seeds to their feed and letting the animals pass the seeds encased in natural "seed balls"?
 
                            
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would love to hear how that turns out - worth a shot i reckon

 
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PapaBear wrote:
I was thinking along the seed ball line to improve the very limited pasture lands for my goats and geese. Would it be feasable to let them create seed balls by adding the seeds to their feed and letting the animals pass the seeds encased in natural "seed balls"?



Maybe with the geese, but I doubt it for the goats. The thing about bears is that they are primarily carnivores, and have very short and gentle digestive tracts, they strip the pulp off the fruit and the seeds inside pass through easily. A goat will ruminate which involves grinding and regrinding every little bit of food. Geese also have a short fast digestive tract, so a hard seed with intact seed coat could make it trough alright. Though most of the plants you would want to improve a pasture will not have the kinds of seeds you would need to use to get through a goose.
 
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Bobzi & others,  I will attempt to describe the litter and duff technique in more detail:
The litter and duff horizons in most forests possess a diverse and viable seed bank that can be used to restore appropriate native vegetation to severely disturbed sites - for example, road obliteration projects, campsite obliteration projects or mine site restoration.  You need three elements for this technique to work:  1)viable seeds, 2) a good germination substrate, and 3) adequate precipitation.  Using the litter and duff horizons and a tiny bit of the topmost mineral horizon also provides spawn for fungal inoculation.

We have used this technique on steep slopes, with shovels, buckets and rakes, and on road systems with an excavator.  It works surprisingly well.  An example:

First the seed source (forest litter & duff) should be very close to the restoration project.  Often it is immediately adjacent to our project.  Remove the litter and duff and a quarter inch of the mineral horizon, transport it to your site, and rake in lightly.  I pick my seed sources by looking for species of plants with persistent seeds, for example, take the litter and duff from near a service berry, or snow berry or knik knik or lupine.  The germination substrate should be de-compacted with mineral soil exposed.  Spread the litter and duff at a rate of about one 5 gallon bucket to 500 square feet of mineral soil.  A little goes a long way. 

You need about 25 inches of annual precipitation for great results. 

I sometimes use a nurse grass to bootstrap the growth, typically annual rye.  This comes up quick, sticks around for one growing season and goes away.  It tends to ameliorate soil conditions while the natives take hold.  Too much annual rye will kill your natives.

The icing on the cake is tons of woody debris.  Healthy soil is linked to biologic activity; and in the Rockies, bio activity is often linked to a carbon source for fungi.  The woody debris also provides great micro-sites for emerging vegetation.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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PapaBear wrote:
I was thinking along the seed ball line to improve the very limited pasture lands for my goats and geese. Would it be feasable to let them create seed balls by adding the seeds to their feed and letting the animals pass the seeds encased in natural "seed balls"?



I agree with Emerson. While this works for many animals, sheep and goats have very efficient digestive systems and often digest or destroy many seeds thoroughly. I've read this is one of the reasons many people use goat and sheep for eliminating weeds and future weed seeds.

Geese you might be able to feed berries or something, which are designed to pass through birds efficiently. I don't have experience with geese, though, so I can't offer much commentary. I only know that robins, mockingbirds, and other feathered friends like berries...a lot...and sometimes I find strange plants growing under roosts and the garden where I never put them.
 
                            
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Two stories to add to the mix:

Years ago I knew a lady who had a daughter that was in her early teens.  The girl talked her mom into buying a 50# sack of sunflower seeds.  That night, under a full moon, the whole sack of seed disappeared.  Soon every patch of unused land within almost a mile of their house had sunflower growing everywhere.  Some even popped up in hedges next to people's houses.  The girl never admited to doing it, but she did have access to an antique corn planter.

Sunflowers, BTW, are allelopathic to grass and might be a good transition from lawn to forest.

Last year I made a couple hundred seedballs with deep-rooted plants like dikon and legumes.  The idea was to get some soil builders going.  I got them in too late and then rains stopped.  Not much grew.  I'm getting late in the season again, but might give it another try.  I don't think I'd want to do the trees that randomly though.  Planning paths and such make life a lot easier.
 
                            
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i've tried sunflower here - they don't last a day here - tourists feed the birds sunflower seeds so they sense them all over the place. great story though!

if you do try again - would love to hear how you go.
 
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Made some seedballs couple months ago as an experiment.
It was tedious but worth it.
Sunnhemp, various peas, buckwheat, borage...
Some of the seedballs that were broadcast took root and grew in difficult to reach areas.
...but I will have to make a "machine" for this.
My thoughts have turned to using a 5gal bucket - have it turning on some casters.
Maybe use a drill or simple crank. Maybe use some innertube as a "drive belt"
or I can just use my small concrete mixer.
I'd love to have large quantities of seeds for broadcasting at the edges of trees or on open spaces as cover crops.
Preparing the clay is time consuming too...
 
                            
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great to hear about this.
where did the seed balls go on to? grass? soil? etc...
any photos at all?
 
Jack Shawburn
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Strewn amongst weeds, grass, edges of thickets and dense shrubs.
Some were even thrown onto mulch and some on bare patches.
If one were to seed specific plants into unworked areas
then seedballs must be the answer for doing it easier.
 
                            
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wow
great to hear of its success

so, no photos?

what was your mix?
 
                                              
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maikeru wrote:
I'm going to try a little bit of this. Mix of forbs, ground cover, small bush/shrubs, and apple and maybe persimmon seeds. Some other trees have to go in as saplings because I can't acquire/find the seeds.

Bobzi, would you please mention the seed supplier?



what types of seeds cant you find?
 
                                              
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bobzi wrote:
ha!
i meant if one were to throw the seedballs on the lawn and let them go - no mowing..



if you have a thick mat of grass you might want to break up a spot for each seedball, or even put a bit of new soil there to help the other things along. An established patch of grass releases things that inhibit other seeds from types of plants. It is what makes a lawn work, much more then simply crowding out other stuff.....

If there are blank spots in the lawn, then put the seedballs there.
 
                                              
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Emerson White wrote:
Most fruit trees are improved cultivars and do not come true from seed, also...



And many others do come true from seed or close enough it doesnt matter. and if you have a few of those, and they crossed, your seed could easily be an improvement.

Peaches, plums, cherries, lots of citrus to for those warmer regions.....

If space is an issue, sure go with things you know do well but there are multiple benefits from going from seed. Including the fact its cheaper.
 
Mark Vander Meer
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What things do you think grass releases to inhibit other plants? 
 
                                              
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Mark Vander Meer wrote:
What things do you think grass releases to inhibit other plants? 



chemicals.  im sure not all grasses do it, like bunch grasses that wouldnt make much sense. but the ones that make mats they usually do. theres probably an official name for this process. i dont remember it though. I was just more interested that it happened rather then its name. Im not good with names... 
 
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jesse tack wrote:
Is it possible to do a food forest from seed balls?
All the trees, shrubs, perennials, ground cover, etc. dropped at the same time? a year apart?
Would you grow a season of mulch first?

The idea being to over seed the area with multiple varieties of each and let them fight it out, nature style. 

Then after the random guilds start to show, the designer fills in the missing links/encourages.


Would you prep the soil in a certain way?
Is this more cost effective than saplings?

just a thought







It's been done with limited success.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SefF4zUeMGw






RE: Seedballz, the clay they chose scares me, its in the pic on the very first page.  When seed balls are made you aren't supposed to be using pre-mixed clay like they are in the picture.
 
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Alot5 of talk about making seed balls by hand. Very labour intensive. A cement mixer can be rented for like $45 a day and you can make tons literaty. First put the seeds in then add the other stuff little by little.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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Jen0454 wrote:
Made some seedballs couple months ago as an experiment.
It was tedious but worth it.
Sunnhemp, various peas, buckwheat, borage...
Some of the seedballs that were broadcast took root and grew in difficult to reach areas.
...but I will have to make a "machine" for this.
My thoughts have turned to using a 5gal bucket - have it turning on some casters.
Maybe use a drill or simple crank. Maybe use some innertube as a "drive belt"
or I can just use my small concrete mixer.
I'd love to have large quantities of seeds for broadcasting at the edges of trees or on open spaces as cover crops.
Preparing the clay is time consuming too...



Check youtube, I saw one a few years ago....  personally I don't like the machine idea since it runs off of oil based fuels.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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BDAFJeff wrote:
Alot5 of talk about making seed balls by hand. Very labour intensive. A cement mixer can be rented for like $45 a day and you can make tons literaty. First put the seeds in then add the other stuff little by little.




Well, as a permie, using a rented cement mixer is kinda a huge no no.  The amount of money, fuel, and transportation make it rather unappealing since we are supposed to be moving away from oil based fuel systems in favor new greener technologies.  Being a permie isn't just organic or sustainable gardening, its a whole package deal which people sometimes forget.
 
                                              
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  Ive made seed balls before. It was some work as clay is heavy, but i mixed up a wheel barrel full and had them finished in a few hours.

   I dont know anything about cement mixers, but I doubt it would be worth buying on to seed ball a parcel of land, unless you had a massive amount.

   Dont you have to clean cement mixers between uses? You might spend as much time cleaning it, as it would take to mix a batch or two with a shovel.

  EDI= I wasnt thinking of renting... but still I dont think youd save as much work as you think. Loading and unloading the thing. cleaning it, the work you did to make the money to rent it. a shovel and a wheel barrow is super simple....
 
Emerson White
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Mekka Pakanohida wrote:

Well, as a permie, using a rented cement mixer is kinda a huge no no.  The amount of money, fuel, and transportation make it rather unappealing since we are supposed to be moving away from oil based fuel systems in favor new greener technologies.  Being a permie isn't just organic or sustainable gardening, its a whole package deal which people sometimes forget.



I think that both the man who invented the term permaculture and the man who runs this site would disagree with you. Annual rentals would be a bad thing, but just like bringing in a backhoe to do earthworks planting a food forest is aq one time expenditure.
 
Jeff Hodgins
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You could use a modified bycicle to turn a bucket or make a solar powered mixer there are tons of videos on youtube about it. The quality of the seed balls will be higher if made this way because the seeds are near the center of the ball. I have made seed balls by hand to and it works but if you want to do large scale like I do then it just isn't cost effective. With so many problems in conventional agriculture I think that if we want to make a real difference we have to THINK BIG. Don't get me wrong I'm dead against mechanized farming as we know it but do we realy want to go back to the stone age?
 
                                              
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Emerson White wrote:
I think that both the man who invented the term permaculture and the man who runs this site would disagree with you. Annual rentals would be a bad thing, but just like bringing in a backhoe to do earthworks planting a food forest is aq one time expenditure.


depending on the task, I think if you worked out the numbers that even by the strictest standards such things can be worthwhile for sure. I want a diesel backhoe eventually, so I could grow my fuels eventually. Not that fuel is the only expense....

Are some people against them on just principle? Are these same folks actually online?
 
                                              
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BDAFJeff wrote:
You could use a modified bycicle to turn a bucket or make a solar powered mixer there are tons of videos on youtube about it. The quality of the seed balls will be higher if made this way because the seeds are near the center of the ball. I have made seed balls by hand to and it works but if you want to do large scale like I do then it just isn't cost effective. With so many problems in conventional agriculture I think that if we want to make a real difference we have to THINK BIG. Don't get me wrong I'm dead against mechanized farming as we know it but do we realy want to go back to the stone age?



Im curious what your doing. Are you growing grains and other staples with seed balls?
 
Jeff Hodgins
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Personaly I dont think a one time seeding would work. I think you have to seed every year for a number of years in order to make a selfsustained system.
 
                                              
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BDAFJeff wrote:
Personaly I dont think a one time seeding would work. I think you have to seed every year for a number of years in order to make a selfsustained system.



All depends on where you live I guess. Are you doing staples in your set up? Besides the perennial grains Im working with, youd have to re seed them yearly. except maybe jerusalem artichokes. Are you doing beans or potatoes, or wheat or anything? If your grains were dropping their seeds,(theyve been bred not to long ago for the most part) youd have little to harvest. It also would make disease issues much higher.

I can certainly see all the berries and nuts, and greens and many veggies like this. but im not sure how youd work staples into that....
 
Emerson White
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BDAFJeff wrote:
Personaly I dont think a one time seeding would work. I think you have to seed every year for a number of years in order to make a selfsustained system.


I think that this is a valid point, but I think that at most it would be a few smaller batches of seeds a few times in the future, perhaps do the smaller batches the hard way? I was not aware of this mechanised process in my initial criticism of seed balls.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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Emerson White wrote:
I think that both the man who invented the term permaculture and the man who runs this site would disagree with you. Annual rentals would be a bad thing, but just like bringing in a backhoe to do earthworks planting a food forest is aq one time expenditure.



And Fukuoka, E. Hazlip and I disagree with regards to the compaction of the soil. 

B. Mollinson would also agree that hand digging would be better over a backhoe any day. 
 
Emerson White
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Mekka Pakanohida wrote:
And Fukuoka, E. Hazlip and I disagree with regards to the compaction of the soil. 

B. Mollinson would also agree that hand digging would be better over a backhoe any day. 



Well you can say that some permies are against it, but you can't really say that as a permie machines are a big no no.

As for soil compation you'll have to explain to me how making seedballs in a cement mixer leads to soil compaction. It's a shame that no one explained it to Fukuoka, because he too used a cement mixer to make them.
 
pollinator
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SILVERSEEDS wrote:

Are some people against them on just principle? Are these same folks actually online?



Great point! anyone truly anti machine would not be able to post here on their never been bought computer, that they would never connect to a grid (like Internet... through phone or cable). These things too may pass (sooner than we think), but they are teaching me a lot while I can use them. Machines to make seed balls sounds reasonable in light of the destruction we have done to our soils.... otherwise we may not need seed balls.
 
pollinator
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Mekka Pakanohida wrote:

B. Mollinson would also agree that hand digging would be better over a backhoe any day.   



Really?  Much heavy machinery is depicted in the "Designers manual".  I get the impression he doesn't have a problem with heavy machinery used appropriately - one time to construct earthworks. 
 
maikeru sumi-e
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SILVERSEEDS wrote:
what types of seeds cant you find?



Hey Silver, sorry it's taken me a bit to get back to you. I missed this post. Mainly I was referring to some of my grafted fruit trees and bushes and some specific cultivars of herbs that are more locally adapted, etc. that can't be acquired or grown from seed (but can be used to produce my own seed! ). Some of these I'll propagate, graft, or breed myself later when I have the chance. I'm gonna have to drop the idea for the persimmons right now, which makes me a little sad.

My peach and nectarine trees are *loaded* with blossoms right now. Hope this is a promise of things to come.
 
Len Ovens
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maikeru wrote:
My peach and nectarine trees are *loaded* with blossoms right now. Hope this is a promise of things to come.



There seem to at least be some bees around this year, last year the bees seemed to come out late and there were whole apple trees that had no apples, that were full the year before.
 
                                              
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most peaches and nectarines should be self pollinating. others also.
 
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I don't really see the need for seedball implementation in a forest garden enviro. Just get out there and lightly break ground, and broadcast from seed and lightly cover. Spend a few hours doing this and you won't have to be bothered with it again. I lightly water in, the spots closest to my home, but generally the next rain shower will suffice. Seedballs are for the lazy , haha. Don't get me wrong, it's fun to throw them randomly when you're cruisin' on a car ride, but otherwise I see them as novelty.

Peace -
 
Jack Shawburn
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Not a novelty.
We do not break the ground.
Germination is higher than with broadcast seed that will be eaten quickly.
In a drier area seedballs "lie and wait" for the rains to come then germinate at the correct time.
Sowing into some difficult to reach, rocky, or weedy and overgrown areas is easier with seedballs.
You can sow into or over mulch.
Making the seedballs is what takes up most the time.
 
The moth suit and wings road is much more exciting than taxes. Or this tiny ad:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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