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This is a badge bit (BB) that is part of the PEP curriculum.  Completing this BB is part of getting the sand badge in Foraging.

Seed balls are a technique for planting stuff without planting it.  Just assemble the seeds in a ball of compost and clay and chuck them into places where you want plants to show up.  The compost brings fertility to the process.  The clay holds the ball together and gives the seeds something to germinate in once there is water present.


To complete this BB, the minimum requirements is to make at least 4 lbs (fresh weight) of seed balls/bombs:
      o at least an inch in diameter
      o can either be used immediately or quickly dried for storage (before the seeds germinate)
      o at least six different species in each ball/bomb
          - possible species:
             o nettle
             o dandelion
             o maple
             o mulberry
             o apricots
             o apples
             o black locust
             o sepp grain
             o daikon radish
             o alfalfa
             o tomato
             o sunflower
             o lupine
             o squash
             o kale
             o turnip
             o cherry
      o at least four of the species are perennials

To document your completion of the BB, provide the following:
 - A picture of the seeds in your mixing container
 - A picture of the finished balls on a scale showing the weight
 - A listing of the seeds you used
COMMENTS:
 
steward
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Approved BB submission
Ben Zumeta made a bajillion seed balls in this thread: Seed Balling
Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

I certify Ben completed this BB!

 
pollinator
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I'm assuming that the 4 lbs is the dried weight of the seed balls?
 
Mike Haasl
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I read it as the finished weight (wet/damp).  Drying for storage is an option but that comes after the weighing for the BB.
 
Penny McLoughlin
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Cool.

That will make it easier to achieve.

Off to collect dandelion seeds now.
 
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Hello, I made about six pounds of seed balls and gleefully scattered them along the edge of a forest on an abandoned lot.

Here's screened compost and clay:



Seeds added in.  The seeds I used were acorn squash, sweet snap peas, red beans, tall thistle, gala apple, borage, snapdragons, habanero, and three types of corn.  





I don't have a scale but I do have five lbs of flour and a see-saw.  This readily outweighs the five pound flour bag.

Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

I certify this BB complete!

 
author & gardener
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I have been a big fan of Masanobu Fukuoka ever since I read The One-Straw Revolution five years ago. His seed balls always fascinated me, but it wasn't until this BB plus the excellent video that I was motivated to give them a try.

I formulated the seed balls for my goat pasture, so the seed mix contained a variety of grasses, legumes, and forbs: crimson clover, arrowleaf clover, hairy vetch, purple top turnip, annual ryegrass, wheat, oats, winter peas, rape, radish, white clover, perennial rye, timothy, brome, echinacea, chicory, and oregano.

Seed mix for seed balls.

My equal parts of seed, compost, and southern red clay.

Mine are a little large so they are probably more like seed bombs.

Several small batches worked out to the required 4 pounds.

I threw them onto some bare spots in the pasture shortly after making them. Looking forward to seeing what happens!
Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

I certify this BB complete!

 
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Location: Prescott, Az
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Could I use our soil since it is mostly clay?
 
Mike Haasl
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Sounds like if you add compost to your soil, it meets the requirements...
 
Lori Ott
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Could I use our soil since it is mostly clay?
 
Mike Haasl
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Yes, if you add some compost
 
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Anyone have any tips for where to find clay affordably? Would it be at the local garden/hardware store? My soil has nearly no clay in it (it's "gravely loam")
 
Mike Haasl
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Maybe at an art place?
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Anyone have any tips for where to find clay affordably? Would it be at the local garden/hardware store? My soil has nearly no clay in it (it's "gravely loam")


Perhaps a friend in Georgia could mail you some clay?

That’s only partly a joke.

We had a pond dug. (“Here’s the number for a former police officer,” said the Sheriff as he handed over the sticky note.  Everyone else at the breakfast picked up on that quick. Then we listened to jokes about, “he’s probably a good friend to have... knows how to hide bodies...”)

Anyway, we attempted some earthworks and put the topsoil in one berm and the deeper soil in a different spot. That deeper soil is mostly clay. If/when I do this BB, I will see how well the clay soil holds it shape.

So, this is roundabout way of asking you to consider if you or a neighbor has had a pond or pool dug recently. The deeper soil is not topsoil. Somebody local to you would probably let you carry off a bucket of soil to experiment.  Keep note paper with you and if you see big equipment parked in a yard, give it a try?
 
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Look up pottery suppliers. Even if there aren't any near you they all ship and have a choice of buying smaller amounts of clay. I'm in FL and have often used Davens in GA or Axners here in FL.
 
pioneer
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Nicole, it's been a while since I've been out there, but what about collecting clay from near moto-trails in capital state forest (Olympia)?
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Anyone have any tips for where to find clay affordably? Would it be at the local garden/hardware store? My soil has nearly no clay in it (it's "gravely loam")


I once got 20 5 gal buckets or so of clay from a B.L.M. (Bureau of Land Management) site for very little money.  It mainly just cost me the trouble of going to the office and then digging up the clay.  I believe I just had to pay for the permit at the field office.  National Forests may be an option too, but you'll have to check with them.  I do know that you can get permits to remove plants and such.  Oh, and the people at the offices will often get a map out and show you where to go, how to get there, etc.  They are very helpful!
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Anyone have any tips for where to find clay affordably? Would it be at the local garden/hardware store? My soil has nearly no clay in it (it's "gravely loam")


Try cat litter.  When we sift it out there are balls just the right size made with liquid nitrogen fertilizer.  I add them to my compost bin for trees.   Any way it is probably the easiest source of clay that can be mixed easily with compost. If you do not have your own I am sure there is a neighbor that would be glad to give you some to upcycle.  Possible disease vector so not appropriate for vegetable seed.
 
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I love cats, but cat littler (used) is nasty stuff. You can buy pure clay at less than $1 a pound, no chemicals and no disease. May be worth considering?
226BAC11-073D-4D01-8F3A-8AFD2926748D.jpeg
[Thumbnail for 226BAC11-073D-4D01-8F3A-8AFD2926748D.jpeg]
 
Nicole Alderman
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Oooooh! So bentonite clay will work for this? We once bought it at the local feed store to use as kitty litter (now the cats just use wood stove pellets and we compost it away from all the growies, because I don't want their ucky poo in my food!). Knowing so little about clay, I didn't know that bentonite worked liked other clay. I recall the pure bentonite kitty litter was really cheap in the store (I think it was less than $10. But it was 8 years ago, so I don't have the best recollection). Looks like I'll be getting some on my next trip to the farm coop!
 
Julie Reed
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Bentonite is used for ponds, so I can’t imagine it wouldn’t work for seed balls. I use the wood pellets too, for cat litter. Much cheaper and can compost or burn. Could probably even be used as mulch around trees, but my dogs find them way too interesting! 🙄
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I use bentonite clay for all sorts of things where I want to be able to absorb moisture without causing a mess.
Clean kitty litter/bentonite clay works great and is very cheap compared to other sources.
As long as you add other things to it, it will fall apart nicely.

The "liner" for ponds is usually pure bentonite spray, or otherwise used as a lone layer to keep water in. .

As far as actual kitty litter? We use compressed pine bedding for horses. It's absorbent, smells nice for quite a long time considering, and is biodegradable. I use the used litter, complete with feline additions, as "hole filler" in my backyard where the chickens scatter it all over. It's, slowly, improving our soil.  I wouldn't recommend using as compost, unless your pile reaches sterilizing temperatures. There can be nasty zoonotics that sneak up and make you ill..
(ed for spelling)
 
Julie Reed
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I wouldn't recommend using as compost, unless your pile reaches sterilizing temperatures. There can be nasty zoonotics that sneak up and make you ill..    



I used to worry about that, but then rationalized that I’ve got 2 cats of my own, plus neighboring cats and occasionally strays, all of whom are now and again peeing and pooping in my growing areas, so what really is the difference? Maybe concentration if you used all your compost in one spot?
 
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