What’s better than playing in the mud? Playing in the mud in February!
Planting seeds might be a serious job, but this past weekend we turned it into a fun afternoon. Technically, we were making seed balls, but really we were playing in the mud.
First, we gathered up all the leftover seeds we could find, which is not a difficult task, as we always seem to harvest and store more seeds than we ever get around to planting. Because we will scatter the seed balls along our rural roadside, we collected seeds of 23 different wildflowers and 11 native grasses (which we kept separate). We headed over to our friends’ house. One of them is a sculptor, so he provided the clay. We set to work – or play, actually.
Here’s what we did:
1. Cover a large work space with plastic tarp.
2. In a large bowl or small bucket, mix three parts soil/compost mix with enough clay and water to form a consistency that holds its shape when pressed together. (Add water gradually so it’s not too wet – water should not drain out when you squeeze mixture.)
3. Add one part seeds and mix well.
4. Form into 3/4 to 1 inch balls (or any other shape you feel like; after all this is supposed to be fun). Teaspoons or melon ballers work well.
5. Put seed balls on cookie sheets; allow to dry for one to two days.
(We didn’t have powdered clay or pure compost, so we improvised and pressed prepared red clay through a garlic press, cut it into small pieces and mixed it with the seeds and President’s Choice “The Perfect Soil Mix”, which is a peat, soil and compost mix.)
When dry, toss on ground at a density of 10 balls per square yard/metre. Seed balls will sink under the snow and stay frozen until spring. Then, with warmer weather and rain they will disintegrate. The seeds grow where they land, fed by the soil/compost mix. (You can also make and distribute seed balls in the spring or fall.)
All in all, we used 1-1/2 cups of flower seeds and an equal amount of native grass seeds, which we mixed up in separate batches. This resulted in 250 flower seed balls and 80 grass seed balls. Our friends wanted large areas of poppies on their property, so they also made up seed balls using only those seeds.
As you can see, we had a good time. Hopefully, it will turn out to have been a productive time, too. We’ll check the areas we seed later this year and next to see how things grow.