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seed ball progress

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  • roberto
    SEED BALLS IN NEW ZEALAND The use of seed balls as a method of recreating native habitat in New Zealand is both innovative and exciting. Here in Southland,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 8, 2001

      The use of seed balls as a method of recreating native habitat in New
      Zealand is both innovative and exciting.
      Here in Southland, where trials with the seeds of indigenous plants are
      under way, there is much interest from environmental organisations and
      individuals wishing to accelerate the process of habitat creation.

      The method is being used in other countries as an effective tool for re
      vegetation of degraded landscapes, particularly in semi arid areas. Trials
      there have shown that the process is simple and effective and can involve a
      whole range of people, from the very young to the elderly.


      The process is similar to making chocolate truffles!
      You will need seeds, compost, clay and water.


      Collect seeds from as close as possible to the proposed restoration site.
      Clean and store each type of seed according to its needs. Some seeds, such
      as manuka, need to be dried and stored in a dark place. Pittosporum seeds,
      on the other hand, have to be separated from their sticky coating before
      use. Wash and rub the seedpods in detergent to separate the seeds and then
      rinse them well. Poroporo need to be treated like tomatoes, that is, set
      out to ripen until squishy, mushed in a container of water, left to stand
      and ferment slightly, then pulped by hand to separate seed from pulp.
      There are many good manuals describing the pre treatment of New Zealand
      seeds. Common sense will ensure that you succeed.
      Once you have a good supply of seed, you can mix them together in
      combinations such as you would find naturally.


      Compost collected from beneath the sorts of trees you plan to grow serves
      two purposes. The sprouting seeds will use nutrients from the compost to
      grow, once they have exhausted their own reserves. At the same time,
      mycorrhiza which will be found as spores or fragments in the compost, will
      'partner up' with the growing seed and begin its beneficial association
      with the plant. These fungi appear to be essential to the successful
      establishment of native plants. The compost needs to be sieved to remove
      stalks and leaves, then dried in a shaded place.


      The most suitable clay to use is red terracotta clay, collected from a site
      free of weed seed. Often, digging deep will ensure that no unwanted seeds
      become part of the mix!
      The clay needs to be dried and ground finely to ensure a lump free mixture.
      Two bricks can serve as an effective grinder. Other clays, the blues and
      whites are not suitable for this process, as they contain minerals, which
      interfere with the growth of the seedlings.


      Take one part seeds, add three parts compost and mix until the seeds are
      coated. Put in five parts of powdered clay and mix the whole lot together.
      Add a little water, until the mixture is like dough. Be careful not to use
      too much water. Pinch off a small amount of the mix, compress it between
      your fingers then roll it between the palms of your hands. The seed ball
      should be the size of a small marble and should feel 'sound'. As you roll
      more and more seed balls, set them out to dry in a shaded place. They will
      be dry in a few days and can be dispersed from that time on.


      Seed balls don't get planted. They are simply scattered about the site you
      wish to re vegetate. They can be thrown, rolled, fired from a slingshot or
      dropped from a helicopter! Children love to do this work and elderly
      people find it very rewarding to be able to take part in a project that
      doesn't require backbreaking digging!
      The most suitable sites for 'seed balling' are those free from thick
      grasses. Exposed soil, beneath exotic trees, broom and gorse, in pine
      forests, amongst native nurse plants, such as manuka, on beach foreshores,
      amongst harakeke and so on.

      There is no need to water the seed balls. They will absorb moisture from
      the ground, the dew and the rain and will sprout when conditions are right.
      Many seeds will grow from a single seed ball and the plant most suited to
      the micro-conditions of that site will prevail.

      Seed balls are easy to make, light to transport and simple to apply.
      They ensure a very high strike rate, protect seeds form birds and insects
      and can be spread in very difficult areas. They provide an opportunity for
      an enjoyable community activity and they don't cost anything!

      If you would like to contact me with questions or news of seed ball
      projects you have initiated, e-mail me at;


      I would be very interested to hear from you.

      I would like to thank the Royal Society of New Zealand for their vital
      assistance through their Teacher Fellowship Scheme, which has enabled me to
      pursue this yearlong study into Seed Balls as a Method of Habitat Creation.

      Robert Guyton
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