The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Seed ball growth after 10 days

Roots growing out of a seed ball
A week and a half after "planting", many of my seed balls have germinated.  In fact, the seedlings have already punched their roots down out of the seed ball and into the ground below --- essential if they're going to make it.

I'm excited to see the seedlings growing so fast, but there are some clear problems with the method.  I tossed the seed balls out during a rainy spell and many of the seeds germinated only to wither up when hot, dry weather deleted the moisture from their exposed earth.  I can see how smaller seed balls would have nestled down into the ground and been less prone to dessication.

Germinating cowpeas

Seed ball vs. seeds in dirtSome of the seeds did much better than others.  The clover sprouted very well, but the seedlings were also some of the first to wither when seed balls dried out, while the grass-like rye and millet seemed to be the best sprouters and survivors.  Cowpeas also did surprisingly well (since the seeds are large and prone to fall out of the ball), but I only found two field corn seedlings and one sunflower seedling.  The jury's still out on the slower-germinating amaranth.

Finally, I was interested to compare seed balls to the same mixture that hadn't been formed into balls and had merely been scattered on the ground as-is.  It's tough to tell with the seedlings so young, but both methods seem to be about equally effective, making me lean toward the lower work, non-ball method for future experiments.  I'll keep you posted as my experimental seedlings grow.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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