How to make lots of seed balls with a 5 gallon bucket

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How to make lots of seed balls with a 5 gallon bucket
« on: October 01, 2010, 03:53:17 AM »
It doesn't take too long to feel like making seed balls by hand can be time consuming and dry your hands out badly.  I'm going to show you my way of quickly and efficiently making seed balls on a more moderate scale.
Some solutions are to use a cement mixer or a giant barrel hooked up to some sort of belt driven mechanism which can use a lot of electricity/gasoline and/or a lot of space. 
I have made this nice compact seed tumbler out of a 5 gallon bucket, some scrap wood, and four roller wheels. 
It is important to have the bucket on an incline so that your ingredients don't fall out of the bucket. Mine is on an incline and also has a lid with a hole cut in it for feeding the ingredients.  I screwed an extra piece of wood into the back of the tumbler frame to help stabilize the bucket and prevent it from slipping off the back.

Re: How to make lots of seed balls with a 5 gallon bucket
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2010, 05:22:41 AM »
Steps:
1. Add compost.  
I use straight earth worm castings.  The microbial ecology surrounding the seed is a precious resource, and worm castings are jam packed with healthy microflora.
2. Add seed mixture.  How many seeds to use depends on your seeds germination rates and the size of the seed balls.  The more varieties the better.  Be careful not to crowd out the other seeds with too many of one strongly competing seed.
3.Spin thoroughly.
Roll the bucket to mix the two of them, until they are as homogeneous as possible.  When worm castings are dry they are very friable which aids in spreading the seeds evenly.
4. Spray, spin, and repeat.  
The basic premise is that  starting off everything should be independent and free to mix. As the mixture is sprayed with water it begins to clump together and the wetter it gets the bigger the resulting compost balls will be. Watch out, spray slowly so that you don't turn everything into mud. If you go too far then add more castings and break up the balls while tumbling, till they dry out a bit.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2010, 05:36:13 AM by 601vigilante »

Re: How to make lots of seed balls with a 5 gallon bucket
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2010, 05:24:23 AM »
Steps:
5. Dust with red clay, spin,water, repeat.
Dust with handfuls of red clay, continue spinning until all of the red clay is bound to the seed balls.   When the seed balls can no longer attach to any more clay, then spray it a little.  The reason why the red clay is added after the compost ball is formed, is so that a strong protective shell can be formed around the compost/seed mixture.  Clay is made of flat particles that when they align with each other they will form a strong crust.  Clay deposits are all over, grab a bag and go check construction sites or your own backyard.
6. Dry seed balls.  
Place in sun on trays until dried completely. Cardboard pizza boxes work great.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2010, 05:37:14 AM by 601vigilante »

Re: How to make lots of seed balls with a 5 gallon bucket
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2010, 05:26:50 AM »
Step 6.  Broadcast and later take photo of a native wildflower(Rocky Mountain Columbine) grown from a seed ball.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2010, 05:34:07 AM by 601vigilante »

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cannonsblazing

Re: How to make lots of seed balls with a 5 gallon bucket
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2010, 07:10:36 PM »
What can I say?

THAT IS BRILLIANT!!!

Re: How to make lots of seed balls with a 5 gallon bucket
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2010, 03:43:48 AM »
thankyou

Re: How to make lots of seed balls with a 5 gallon bucket
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2011, 12:38:19 PM »
WOW!

This is a great idea.

601vigilante - when you say "Spin thoroughly" are you spinning the 5 gallon bucket by hand?

How long is this process taking to make a batch of seed balls?

I'm going to run with this in the Spring!

Thank you for sharing!

Re: How to make lots of seed balls with a 5 gallon bucket
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2011, 10:25:25 PM »
Hey ddingatlanta now you've done and got me all excited about seed balls some more.  Make sure to get an early start on them, because they are much more weather resistant and  can take longer to germinate than just a plain seed would.
Yes, I turn by hand.  Which I do, not only because I'm cheap.  If you've ever made ceramics, it's a lot like throwing clay on a wheel, the more control one can have over the wheels movements the more precision can be used.  With a motorized system you are most likely not going to get that level of sensitivity.  Also, the only carbon emmisions I emmit is from my breathing. It takes me 2.5 hours or less from start to finish to do a full batch. It's really enjoyable, and most of that time is spent adding ingredients and analyzing the seed balls progression.  The bucket keeps excellent momentum on its wheels and isn't a back breaker by any means.
I have two get done fast tips:
1. Don't try making a full batch for your first time.  You might run out of room in your bucket by the time you've added everything and then it can get stresssful trying to split the batch.
2. Slowly moisten the mixture.  If you can, avoid making the media too sticky/moist so the seed balls won't form a conglomerate with each other. It's going to save you time if you don't have to break these conglomerates into smaller seed balls again.
Best wishes in your endeavours