Our Roots & Shoots Victoria volunteer team recently had the privilege of hosting an activity at Port Phillip EcoCentre’s 13th School Sustainability Festival.
Around 50 students enthusiastically got their hands dirty while they learned how to make Native Seed Balls- small balls of clay, earth and native seeds (also known as ‘seed bombs’ for guerrilla gardening) that are used to replant areas where the natural flora has been destroyed.
The technique was first used in ancient Egypt to repair farms after the annual spring flooding of the Nile and was then rediscovered by a Japanese farmer during the period of the Second World War. Today, native seed balls are being used all around the world to re-seed land that has been abused by man or by Mother Nature herself.
The traditional method of broadcasting seed comes with several major drawbacks. When seed is sown on top of the soil, it is exposed to extreme temperatures, and is at risk of being swept away by the wind or washed away by heavy rains. Predators, such as birds or other small wildlife, will feed on the seed leaving very little left to germinate and grow. Making native seed balls addresses these problems. The hard clay protects the seed within from predators and the extremes of temperature until the rain arrives. Once soaked, the seed ball will help retain and prolong a moist environment around the seed to encourage germination.
Once completely dry, the seed ball can be dropped on top of the soil when ready to sow. Otherwise, have some fun and throw the seed balls onto the area you want to revegetate, “guerrilla gardening” style.
Not only does participating in activities such as native seed ball construction have the direct benefits of adding more native plants to an area, but it encourages conversation about wider environmental issues such as the problems faced with replanting large-scale deforested areas (such as those in Kenya) and the importance of planting native seeds that are indigenous to the area. It also shows that helping to make a difference can be fun too! If you would like us to host a Native Seed Ball workshop for your school or community group, please contact your State Coordinator.