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The Gap Between Seedball Promise and Performance

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  • Robert Monie
    Hello Everybody, Emilia, in her Sept 28 post to Justin says, growing vegetables from seed balls (besides daikon, other radishes, and swiss chard) doesn t seem
    Message 1 of 8 , Sep 28, 2002
      Hello Everybody,

      Emilia, in her Sept 28 post to Justin says, "growing vegetables from seed balls (besides daikon, other radishes, and swiss chard) doesn't seem to work."

      My experience with gardenening does not approach Emilia's but, for whatever it is worth, I also haven't been able to grow much of anything from seedballs, though I have tried many times. (Daikon and radishes don't count, since their seeds grow in half-way decent soil almost no matter what you do with them).

      Larry Haftl reports that his seedballs also produced nothing worth mentioning.

      If fact, has anyone in this group (now at an all-time high in membership) been successful in starting or significantly improving a home garden by using seedballs? I can't recall a single post that claims such success.

      Yet we hear reports of seedballs greening deserts with fruit trees and reclaiming badlands. What' s up here? Why would seedballs work on deserts and desolate places but not in our back yards?

      Do the successful seedballers wildcraft some superactive compost or microbial mix into the balls that we don't? Do they use a special kind of clay? Cure the balls differently? Moisten them differently? Do they smear the seed with glycerine to retain moisture before packing it in clay? Are backyards generally less conducive to seedball propogation than wild, desolate places? My imagination is running wild looking for an answer but they elude me.

      Obviously it is possible to do natural gardening without seedballs, as many of us have been doing, at least on a limited basis. But how do we explain this yawning "gap" between what the seedball is supposed to do and what it has done for us?

      Bob Monie



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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • LESLIEANDMARC@aol.com
      I have been meditating on this as a backroom observer---in Japan, the red clay would not pose a problem as there is plenty of moisture to soften it quickly and
      Message 2 of 8 , Sep 28, 2002
        I have been meditating on this as a backroom observer---in Japan, the red
        clay would not pose a problem as there is plenty of moisture to soften it
        quickly and the seeds would not be dehydrated(killed)...in drier climates- I
        believe a softer medium such as peat and soil mixed together will be kinder
        to the germination process, also timing is all important and the
        scarification process is also...one must be patient. If you sow in the wrong
        season, the seeds are going to wait it out until their internal clock tells
        them it is asafe to break dormancy---shows the hand of God, pretty neat huh?


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • emilia
        bob, as u know most common vegetable seeds are not natural , they are the achivement of a long selection that was not looking for the caracteristics that
        Message 3 of 8 , Sep 29, 2002
          bob,
          as u know most common vegetable seeds are not "natural", they are the
          achivement of a long selection that was not looking for the caracteristics
          that waterless/soiless conditions request...the seeds that are used for
          regreening (& that survive) are from plants that could be used in
          windbreaks, reclamation plots: a very sturdy vegetation, nothing to do with
          the demands of vegetable seeds to sprout...
          i doubt fukuoka-san throws vegetable seedballs in desertic, eroded places,
          to me: nat.ag is not only how one sows but the most important element is how
          the soil is kept so that his wild dynamic is maintained in spite of
          manipulation: sprouting & growing annual/biennal vegetables is totally
          different than growing cereals or bushes or trees: may u all experimenting
          with nat.ag may accept this so that u persist in this direction even if it
          implies some modifications/adaptations & not following fukuoka-san in all
          its beautiful gestures...
          Ibn Al-Awwâm an arab-andalousian agronomist in 1248 was advising using clay
          pellets for sowing millet...& the clay & climat (in the south of spain) had
          nothing to do with the japanese red one, so i don't think that is the type
          of clay but on the kind of seeds used that lays success or failure with
          seedballs.

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Robert Monie" <bobm20001@...>
          To: <fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Saturday, September 28, 2002 10:41 PM
          Subject: [fukuoka_farming] The Gap Between Seedball Promise and Performance


          >
          > Hello Everybody,
          >
          > Emilia, in her Sept 28 post to Justin says, "growing vegetables from seed
          balls (besides daikon, other radishes, and swiss chard) doesn't seem to
          work."
          >
          > My experience with gardenening does not approach Emilia's but, for
          whatever it is worth, I also haven't been able to grow much of anything from
          seedballs, though I have tried many times. (Daikon and radishes don't count,
          since their seeds grow in half-way decent soil almost no matter what you do
          with them).
          >
          > Larry Haftl reports that his seedballs also produced nothing worth
          mentioning.
          >
          > If fact, has anyone in this group (now at an all-time high in membership)
          been successful in starting or significantly improving a home garden by
          using seedballs? I can't recall a single post that claims such success.
          >
          > Yet we hear reports of seedballs greening deserts with fruit trees and
          reclaiming badlands. What' s up here? Why would seedballs work on deserts
          and desolate places but not in our back yards?
          >
          > Do the successful seedballers wildcraft some superactive compost or
          microbial mix into the balls that we don't? Do they use a special kind of
          clay? Cure the balls differently? Moisten them differently? Do they smear
          the seed with glycerine to retain moisture before packing it in clay? Are
          backyards generally less conducive to seedball propogation than wild,
          desolate places? My imagination is running wild looking for an answer but
          they elude me.
          >
          > Obviously it is possible to do natural gardening without seedballs, as
          many of us have been doing, at least on a limited basis. But how do we
          explain this yawning "gap" between what the seedball is supposed to do and
          what it has done for us?
          >
          > Bob Monie
          >
          >
          >
          > ---------------------------------
          > Do you Yahoo!?
          > New DSL Internet Access from SBC & Yahoo!
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          >
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          >
          >
        • Larry Haftl
          ... is how ... even if it ... san in all ... Hello Emilia, Like Robert, I ve been trying to figure out why my seedball experiment has so far produced no
          Message 4 of 8 , Sep 29, 2002
            Emilia wrote:

            >to me: nat.ag is not only how one sows but the most important element
            is how
            >the soil is kept so that his wild dynamic is maintained in spite of
            >manipulation: sprouting & growing annual/biennal vegetables is totally
            >different than growing cereals or bushes or trees: may u all experimenting
            >with nat.ag may accept this so that u persist in this direction
            even if it
            >implies some modifications/adaptations & not following fukuoka-
            san in all
            >its beautiful gestures...

            Hello Emilia,

            Like Robert, I've been trying to figure out why my seedball experiment
            has so far produced no plants. I can easily believe that using seedballs
            may be inappropriate in trying to grow most vegetables. What bothers
            me, however, is that so far I've had nothing sprout from seedballs.
            In my experiment there were flower and herb seeds as well as vegetables.
            I tried to get as broad a range of plants as possible just to see
            what would grow and what would not. This included wildflowers and
            some plants that are considered weeds by some people and edibles
            by others. The experiment is still going on. Our fall/winter rains
            are just beginning and I am waiting to see if there is any delayed
            sprouting. One of the possibilities is that I sowed the seedballs
            too late and they didn't get enough rain to dissolve.

            My original goals with this experiment were not to get a vegetable
            garden going. I think I was hoping to get something closer to the
            foraging garden that has been mentioned before, but the main goal
            was to just watch what happened and learn from the experience.

            To me your phrase "... some modifications/adaptations & not following
            fukuoka-san in all its beautiful gestures..." touches on something
            very significant.

            I think we can look at what Fukuoka is saying/doing from two different
            perspectives. The first is to look at his teachings as a method for
            practicing sustainable agriculture/ecosystem modification. From this
            perspective we are looking at his work for ways to grow things better
            (cheaper, easier, more diverse, nutritous, sustainable, etc.) and
            so threads about foraging, permaculture, biodynamics, etc. can be
            relevant and helpful.

            From this perspective there have been a lot of legitimate questions
            raised lately. For example, why did Fukuoka's family convert to more
            conventional agriculture? Has anyone had any significant success
            growing vegetables using seedballs? For that matter have there been
            any successful seedball projects outside of Fukuoka's farm and if
            so, what did they grow? What does it take to start a Fukuoka-natural
            garden (personally I think it requires at least initial tilling)?
            And other questions concered with his method of growing food and
            how it can be used/modified/adapted to fit other environments/needs.


            But I think there is a second way to look at what Fukuoka is saying/doing,
            a second and unique perspective. Fukuoka, like all other sustainable
            agriculturalists, is concerned with growing food in a sustainable,
            "natural" way. But that is not his main concern. I think the clearest
            expression of what Fukuoka is all about came when he said...

            "The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops,
            but the cultivation and perfection of human beings."

            Perhaps this is one of those "elegant gestures" you are talking about?

            It is certainly possible/legitimate/useful to look at Fukuoka's work
            from the first perspective. Judging from the conversations on this
            list that is how most people do look at it, including myself most
            of the time. But then every once in awhile the other perspective
            pops unbidden into my mind and something inside feels uplifted.

            PS. In case you can't tell, today is a rain day...


            Larry Haftl
            larry@...
          • Judy Phillips
            I have had some success with this year s seedball project, though it is hard for me to quantify for you as most of what I grow is wild anyway. I am simply
            Message 5 of 8 , Sep 30, 2002
              I have had some success with this year's seedball project, though it is hard
              for me to quantify for you as most of what I grow is wild anyway. I am
              simply trying to shift the balance between the invaders that swamp my land
              due to previous bad agricultural practices and the native plants that should
              and would be there if the land was in its natural state. My biggest
              frustration in both conventional gardening and my attempts to naturalize
              with seedballs is that the weeds are just too well entrenched--they tend to
              swamp all my efforts.
              I am going to try two things differently on this next round. First, I will
              use the lasagna layering method I discussed in an earlier post to establish
              a better growing zone for my efforts. Second, as most of the seeds I am
              using are from plants that naturally reseed themselves and overwinter in/on
              the ground, I am going to cast my seedballs in January rather than waiting
              til mid-May as I did last year. I am hoping that the wet winter weather will
              help the seedballs settle into place and also that any seeds that need cold
              striation will benefit from the exposure. Maybe the timing and the mulching
              will make the difference. I'll let you know how it goes!
              As time and money allow, I also hope to get an orchard established and
              underplant it with a vareity of edibles as well. Big goals for one lady with
              no equipment other than her hands!
              For anyone interested, there is a very interesting forum at gardenweb on
              winter sowing, including a FAQ sheet and lists of plants most likely to
              succeed with this method. The link is
              http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/wtrsow/
              Green Blessings
              Judy
            • LESLIEANDMARC@aol.com
              Anyone read my recent feedback on this????? [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              Message 6 of 8 , Sep 30, 2002
                Anyone read my recent feedback on this?????


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Larry Haftl
                ... I assume you are talking about the following? ... the red clay would not pose a problem as there is plenty of moisture to soften it quickly and the seeds
                Message 7 of 8 , Sep 30, 2002
                  LESLIEANDMARC wrote:

                  > Anyone read my recent feedback on this?????

                  I assume you are talking about the following?

                  > I have been meditating on this as a backroom observer---in Japan,
                  the red
                  clay would not pose a problem as there is plenty of moisture to soften
                  it
                  quickly and the seeds would not be dehydrated(killed)...in drier
                  climates- I
                  believe a softer medium such as peat and soil mixed together will
                  be kinder
                  to the germination process, also timing is all important and the
                  scarification process is also...one must be patient. If you sow in
                  the wrong
                  season, the seeds are going to wait it out until their internal clock
                  tells
                  them it is asafe to break dormancy---shows the hand of God, pretty
                  neat huh?

                  Yes, I read it. At this point I'm only guessing but I think timing,
                  as always, is everything. I think I put my seedballs out too late
                  and they didn't get enough rain to dissolve. We get 40 inches of
                  rain each year. Problem is it all comes in a 6 month period followed
                  by 6 months of little or no rain. I think I spread my seedballs too
                  close to the cusp. Spring will tell me if my guess is accurate.

                  As to using peat, the balls have some compost in them that holds
                  moisture. I don't think peat would make much difference.

                  For what it's worth, I didn't respond to the orginal message because
                  you didn't mention anything I hadn't thought of before and, as you
                  can see, I'm still waiting to get more input before I form any definite
                  conclusions.

                  Larry Haftl
                  larry@...
                • burt levy
                  Every time that I ve made seedballs, they ve always sprouted within 3-4 days. I ve made seedballs with vegetables, herbs, clover, and native plants and trees.
                  Message 8 of 8 , Oct 1, 2002
                    Every time that I've made seedballs, they've always
                    sprouted within 3-4 days. I've made seedballs with
                    vegetables, herbs, clover, and native plants and
                    trees. Once they get watered they have always sprouted
                    very well for me.
                    --- Larry Haftl <larry@...> wrote:
                    > Emilia wrote:
                    >
                    > >to me: nat.ag is not only how one sows but the most
                    > important element
                    > is how
                    > >the soil is kept so that his wild dynamic is
                    > maintained in spite of
                    > >manipulation: sprouting & growing annual/biennal
                    > vegetables is totally
                    > >different than growing cereals or bushes or trees:
                    > may u all experimenting
                    > >with nat.ag may accept this so that u persist in
                    > this direction
                    > even if it
                    > >implies some modifications/adaptations & not
                    > following fukuoka-
                    > san in all
                    > >its beautiful gestures...
                    >
                    > Hello Emilia,
                    >
                    > Like Robert, I've been trying to figure out why my
                    > seedball experiment
                    > has so far produced no plants. I can easily believe
                    > that using seedballs
                    > may be inappropriate in trying to grow most
                    > vegetables. What bothers
                    > me, however, is that so far I've had nothing sprout
                    > from seedballs.
                    > In my experiment there were flower and herb seeds as
                    > well as vegetables.
                    > I tried to get as broad a range of plants as
                    > possible just to see
                    > what would grow and what would not. This included
                    > wildflowers and
                    > some plants that are considered weeds by some people
                    > and edibles
                    > by others. The experiment is still going on. Our
                    > fall/winter rains
                    > are just beginning and I am waiting to see if there
                    > is any delayed
                    > sprouting. One of the possibilities is that I sowed
                    > the seedballs
                    > too late and they didn't get enough rain to
                    > dissolve.
                    >
                    > My original goals with this experiment were not to
                    > get a vegetable
                    > garden going. I think I was hoping to get something
                    > closer to the
                    > foraging garden that has been mentioned before, but
                    > the main goal
                    > was to just watch what happened and learn from the
                    > experience.
                    >
                    > To me your phrase "... some
                    > modifications/adaptations & not following
                    > fukuoka-san in all its beautiful gestures..."
                    > touches on something
                    > very significant.
                    >
                    > I think we can look at what Fukuoka is saying/doing
                    > from two different
                    > perspectives. The first is to look at his teachings
                    > as a method for
                    > practicing sustainable agriculture/ecosystem
                    > modification. From this
                    > perspective we are looking at his work for ways to
                    > grow things better
                    > (cheaper, easier, more diverse, nutritous,
                    > sustainable, etc.) and
                    > so threads about foraging, permaculture,
                    > biodynamics, etc. can be
                    > relevant and helpful.
                    >
                    > From this perspective there have been a lot of
                    > legitimate questions
                    > raised lately. For example, why did Fukuoka's family
                    > convert to more
                    > conventional agriculture? Has anyone had any
                    > significant success
                    > growing vegetables using seedballs? For that matter
                    > have there been
                    > any successful seedball projects outside of
                    > Fukuoka's farm and if
                    > so, what did they grow? What does it take to start a
                    > Fukuoka-natural
                    > garden (personally I think it requires at least
                    > initial tilling)?
                    > And other questions concered with his method of
                    > growing food and
                    > how it can be used/modified/adapted to fit other
                    > environments/needs.
                    >
                    >
                    > But I think there is a second way to look at what
                    > Fukuoka is saying/doing,
                    > a second and unique perspective. Fukuoka, like all
                    > other sustainable
                    > agriculturalists, is concerned with growing food in
                    > a sustainable,
                    > "natural" way. But that is not his main concern. I
                    > think the clearest
                    > expression of what Fukuoka is all about came when he
                    > said...
                    >
                    > "The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of
                    > crops,
                    > but the cultivation and perfection of human beings."
                    >
                    >
                    > Perhaps this is one of those "elegant gestures" you
                    > are talking about?
                    >
                    > It is certainly possible/legitimate/useful to look
                    > at Fukuoka's work
                    > from the first perspective. Judging from the
                    > conversations on this
                    > list that is how most people do look at it,
                    > including myself most
                    > of the time. But then every once in awhile the other
                    > perspective
                    > pops unbidden into my mind and something inside
                    > feels uplifted.
                    >
                    > PS. In case you can't tell, today is a rain day...
                    >
                    >
                    > Larry Haftl
                    > larry@...
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >


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