Monday, December 16, 2013

Seedballs - Helping Mother Nature

Here is an interesting project that might be fun for the grandkids over the holidays and bring some color to some bare spots in your landscape. 

Well... that may be a bit more than you want to take on

But something like this should be worthwhile.

Seed balls are small balls made of a mixture of clay, humus, wildflower seeds, and a bit of water. A bit of red pepper is also added.  Seed balls are a great way to sow seeds in patchy or bare areas since the seeds are protected from predation by birds, insects, and rodents until the rains fall to melt the clay and allow the seeds to germinate.

A really nice article and pictures is in the current post on one of our favorite other blogs TexasButterflyRanch.   It provides all the instructions and tips you need. You can go right to the article by clicking HERE  But then come back to this page for what follows.....
So I guess you could go looking for some "Red Potters Clay" somewhere but let's see if we can figure out how to come up with an alternative source.  Soil is usually compounded of three different sized particles. The largest particles are sand, through which water flows very readily. The next is silt, and finally, the smallest particles are clay. The clay particles are so small and cling together so tightly that there are not enough porous spaces between to permit water to travel through it. Test some dirt in your own area - not fill or compost brought in, but just the native dirt as at a construction site or in a hole in your back yard.  Get a little of it wet, scoop up a fistful (isn't scientific investigation fun?) and squeeze. If it sticks together in a glob, rather than just collapsing and sliding away, you've got clay. In this area, it's probably red clay, but we don't think that makes a whole lot of difference. The main thing is, it sticks together, so you can get seeds into it and a ball made out of it. When dry, it should hold its shape as well as the seed.  Some articles on seed balls give pretty specific instructions about what soils you need and how to make them, and also mentions that if you're really concerned about getting red clay soil specifically that you can order a terra cotta clay from ceramic supply houses. Some also caution that there should be some sand in the mix. My own thought is that I think you'd be hard pressed to dig your hand in some natural dirt and not find a good mix of clay and sand. After all, that's what our wildflowers are growing in now, right?

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