Are You a Seed Romantic? 2-7-2020

Ever since I was 3 years old, when my pioneer stock mom gave me my first 3’x3’ bed of my very own to plant, I’ve been in love with seeds. She helped me prepare the soil (love dirty hands), pick what I wanted to grow (really her choice, what did I know?), and showed me how to take this tiny little speck and make a plant from it. That experience has stuck with me all these years with a great deal of fondness.

s I recall it was radishes, hollyhocks and something green (I was 3 remember). Every day she would take my hand, and we’d go out to my little baby bed and watch for them to come up. When they poked out of the soil, I couldn’t believe it. And as they grew, it became more and more exciting to me. Later she made little dolls from the flowers with tooth picks. I was hooked.

So, over the years even when I had no place to plant anything I’ve grown plants. In little apartments in L.A. with only window sills for them, but always I made room.

Seeds are my friends.

People give them to me. I collect them from everywhere. I buy them, trade them, swap them, save them, and in general surround myself with unbelieveable bio-diversity. Because this is our future. We’ve lost 90% of the edible varieties of food on this planet in the last 100 years. There is a war against seeds by globalist agriculture and this is DANGEROUS to humanity (and animal kind as well).

If you wanted to control the world, you would have to control food. As our planetary population grows and we keep doing things to ruin or loose top soil, poison the water, and otherwise mess with the natural cycles of rain, if you were in some corporate board room, this spells opportunity. Control what we grow, where we grow it, control how much it costs, how it is distributed, and which areas it’s legal to grow on, and you have the people of the world by the short hairs. It’s the ultimate control point of a society – for profit and power.

So, big corporations like Monsanto, Bayer, General Food, and a host of others you probably wouldn’t recognize, have been buying up the little seed companies family run or localized, and limiting what is available. They also control the huge seed production for mono-cropping agri-biz especially corn, soy, cotton (for seed oil), potatoes, etc. down to about 5 kinds that are hybridized and used. When you alter the natural process of plant propagation by lab genetic alteration, so a plant can’t have a pure future and its wisdom and knowledge are lost or betrayed, we put survival on the line. This madness is a recipe for famine and human depopulation (all well planned).

Meanwhile weather has become weaponized, using geo-environmental engineering, chemical and nano-particle metals like aluminum, barium and strontium stratospheric spraying to create weather or suppress it. Some of it is called geo-engineering by the climate control people. It’s called ‘chem trails’ by people watching the sky fill up with feathering lines of jet exhaust (which isn’t the same as regular exhaust, which dissipates a few minutes after spraying). Chem. trails stay in the sky for many hours, feather out, and blend together eventually turning a blue sky into murky grey. Those particles ride in the stratosphere for long periods of time raining down and polluting the soil and the water for years. The aluminum in chem. trails when living in the soil slow or inhibit the germination process of seeds as well as toxify the food grown from them.

But enough ranting about the evils of chem. trails.

My point is that our food, soil, water are slowly being contaminated and lost to these bad practices. But instead of curling up into a ball at the effect of this evil, I look at how we can do something constructive about it.

How to ensure our earth can support life even if these unethical and harmful practices continue. How can you and I do something effective against what is intended by people doing them.

I am a big fan of Gandhi. He successfully fought the British and their suppression of India’s cotton industry – David and Goliath. When the Brits took over India, it was the source of the finest cotton in the world – quality, beauty, strength – at a time when cotton was not a common fabric and was hard to produce. It was one of India’s survival exchanges with the rest of the world. As was so often true, Britain hit a country at their key and critical survival points in order to steal the profits for the Crown and aristocracy. He won that struggle by the way. But he didn’t do it with big impressive PR moves.

Once when asked why didn’t his movement bring all its resources together and have a huge demonstration which the press could take up and forward. He said that then all their resources would be just one news cycle and be lost to time. Instead by demonstrating to his people that one person acting peacefully by growing and processing small crops of cotton, spinning the fiber, and weaving it for his own clothing teaches them that thousands or millions of housewives can do that quietly in the privacy of their own homes, thus undercutting the British Empire’s political movement to steal India’s cotton industry. At that time it was illegal to grow and process your own cotton or make your own cloth – that all the fiber must be sent to England to be spun and woven, thus to be brought back and sold in India at huge profit to the English cotton industry, skimming the cream for themselves. But hand spinning and weaving behind closed doors was a huge act of revolt and protest done non-violently. That by showing them you can do this yourself the British couldn’t control, arrest, or suppress all those little households of women.

The same goes for the millions of gardeners around the country passing their family’s heirloom varieties forward to the next generation, sharing them, trading them, swapping seeds with neighbors and clubs, we keep these varieties alive, which would be eliminated and removed from the biome * of the planet by the seed companies. (* Biome – The genetic reservoir (as a single element) in the overall genetic collection of life on planet earth, one variety at a time.)

There are some wonderful heirloom seed companies around that have resisted the pressure to sell out. Bakers Creek Heirloom Seed Company, Seed Savers Exchange, and a collection of companies (there are many others on the internet, to name just a few) –  which are keeping bio-diversity alive.

But no way can this handful of little companies do it all. That red cabbage out there in your garden your grandmother grew, saved since pioneer times, is a treasure. That little club of neighbors you belong to that have a seed swap in the spring is fighting back. Support the seed companies, but save the seeds of your local varieties just as daringly.

In Japan after WWII, a very educated man named Masanobu Fukuoka *, who worked for the Japanese Government as an agricultural inspector and other related jobs watched as Western agricultural practices destroyed the delicate farming land around the island of Shikoku in southern Japan. His father had a Mandarin Orange orchard on hilly land, and a rice paddy. Then his father died leaving him the orchard and rice growing land. So, because land is about the most valuable thing in the tiny islands of Japan, he quit his job and went to live on the farm. For 4 years he observed and used the existing technology being used in his area and watched it fail, but figured out how to do everything with a minimum of work, resources, and loss of topsoil.

But around him people were abandoning their land because it became so non-productive people couldn’t support themselves, so the area depopulated. He took on that land as people left, and started using some techniques which later were published in his book “The One Straw Revolution”.

In it, he restored the earth and fertility of the land around him by taking all the straw from his rice production and returning all of it to the beds, with no tilling, plowing, weeding, or any chemicals at all, and he got 22% more yield as a result of all he changed.

And here’s why I brought this up. He realized he could do all his sowing in one sowing a year for both summer and winter crops by making something called “seed balls”. He mixed dry clay powder, rice flour, seeds, compost finely sifted and a bit of water. By using his hands in a circular motion, the mixture formed little marble sized balls. These were then dried in the sun, and later dissiminated around the abandoned fields and along the road margins.

The seeds he used germinated under specific conditions and by careful timing and keeping careful records he found just the right sweet spot in the schedule when he could sow the balls into the fields and cover them with 8” to 10” of dry rice straw thrown out onto the field covering the seed balls. The kinds of seeds in the mix would be determined by the needs of that field – plants that would produce food, flowers for the bees, nitrogen gathering plants like clover, and plants that might protect against erosion like a grass or a succulent.

By doing it that way, the birds didn’t eat the seeds because they were covered with straw and hidden in little balls of clay and soil, waiting for just the right moment to germinate. It’s a brilliant but simple means of delivery – the compost feeds the germinating seeds, the clay holds in the moisture and provides minerals, the rice flour acts like a glue to hold it in a ball until the seeds germinate, and the moisture is only in the seed ball just long enough to hold it together until it hardens by drying. Lying in the field, the ball with its seeds doesn’t come to life until rain is absorbed by the clay and compost, holding the moisture which awakens the germ in the seed, (germination), and as the seedling comes to life, it is fed by the nutrients in the compost until its little roots can establish in surrounding soil. Meanwhile the straw covering it protects it against wind and hungry birds. By the time the nutrients in the seed are diminished by the germination process, the roots are able to sustain and feed the plant and the plant is established, protected by the overhead straw. The straw breaks down thru the growing season, giving nutrition to the surrounding soil, holding in the moisture and improving the top soil.

He’d put these dried seed balls in a fabric shoulder bag and walk down the roads throwing the seed balls into the margins and onto the barely viable and poor soiled fields, nobody the wiser. Then after a rain, a completely dead field would suddenly burst with seedlings and later produce food plants and pollinator attractors, nitrogen capturing clover (self-fertilizing), and moisture holding aerial plants (the top above the soil parts of plants that thru shade keep in moisture). The natural grasses hide the fact of productive fields, only showing green at first, while the clover fertilizes it, the dead organic matter from the dying annual plants rots down adding to the top soil, and the clover, being perennial, holds in moisture and nitrogen.

He successfully took over about 27 acres of abandoned land doing this technique and it became so successful people came first from all over Japan, later the world. He managed to produce on land that had been abandoned, doing so basically by himself, in an area when most agriculture is very labor intensive and community based. But because most of the people had left the area, he figured out how to do it alone. The rice he switched to only needs to be flooded for 4 days and is planted not by first seedlings, in a base of worked soil as mud, and hand transplanted (the traditional way) but by seed ball, no plowing or any special preparation of the soil.

He grows both summer and winter using different grains and clover, and has the added yield of white clover seeds as another product. By carefully choosing grain seeds that only germinate at the right season and time, not all together, he could put all the seeds in one seed ball, but which hold off germinating until the right season for that grain. So, he put summer rice and winter grain in the same seed ball, disseminating only one time in a year for both seasons. This in itself is revolutionary practice.

He didn’t need any money for fertilizers or sprays because he didn’t use any of them. All needs were met by the components of the seed ball. The native predatory insects and spiders took care of the prey pests, and the fact that the clover took up any unused space between the crops crowding out the weeds making herbicides unnecessary as well with no need to weed. Everything he did used less time and energy and work, money, and attention, as well as restoring the soil. When he started, the top soil was almost gone. Many years later, it was reported to be over 6” deep without adding outside soil.

So, back to my love of seeds.

I have e-massed a lot of extra seeds over the years. I have about 40 beds and containers where I grow annual plants – vegetables, herbs, flowers – and I never could grow them all. I share a lot, I swap a lot, I sell some of them (rare kinds), but there are only so many square feet of growing space. So, the seeds I don’t use and don’t give away or swap for (which also comes from the fact that I grow only heirloom seeds and save all I can every season) pile up.

Here is this resource of abundance which in the 3rd ethic of Permaculture is ‘equitable and fair use of abundance created by the first two ethics – which are 1. care of the earth, 2. care of people. It means that there is more that can be used by myself, and can be set aside to trade for things I can’t myself produce. Or which I can use for charitable causes and teaching.

What better way of using those seeds which have gone out of their usual high germination rate because of their age, than making seed balls?! (How to make them and use them.)

In Permaculture there is the concept called ‘Guerilla Gardening’. This is the beautifully sneaky practice of taking otherwise unused land and making it yield production. Mr. Fukuokoa did this with abandoned fields and road margins. In England permaculturists have been taking over vacant spots around towns and where only weeds survived. In New York, permaculturists have taken the space between the streets and sidewalks which only yielded hard pounded dirt and weeds, and make beautiful productive gardens from them. In Los Angeles, a whole area in the warehouse and truck distribution center has been turned into a food production area. This area had been a ‘food desert’ from lack of available fresh produce. Guerilla Gardening in E. L.A. Ron Findlay gardener TED talk

This practice has taken hold of the consciousness of certain people all across the planet turning unused land into ways to feed people and restore the earth thru Permaculture Design techniques.

Guerilla gardening starts with identifying spaces that can be turned from junky refuse dumping spaces to little pockets of beauty and reward. Then the collection of abundances of unused seeds are transformed into little bombs of life making gardens where only wasteland existed before. This has had the added benefit of upgrading property values, improving the community spirit of neighborhoods, teaching children where food comes from, and in some cases even turned gangland kids into gardeners.  It has made former dangerous areas safe and attractive.

Flinging that handful of little clay marbles onto a spot along the road or trail or in a park, or abandoned block in the city is an act of faith in the future, and in the generosity of life. Who knows what magic that little bundle of seeds will bring to a human or animal as the seeds are given the chance to do their life’s work.

And who knows how doing that may save a kind of plant once placed into a space that one day will see it blend with other plants compatible and companionable and give bio diversity to a little corner of the world otherwise abandoned and unnoticed.

Meanwhile, the things we do to preserve heirloom open pollinated heritage plant varieties is critical at this time. That one kind of bean or lettuce or other food or herb plant thru your loving work can get it to produce seeds, then you can process and save the seeds and label the. Now it’s possible to share and spread the plant, and it may make the difference between it living beyond your lifetime or being lost. A few minutes used now can have long term implications and effects. Think of the years and years of care that were spent by careful people to ensure that plant still exists. It’s kindness passed forward and survival ensured by taking responsibility and loving into the future.

Taking space in your garden to grow that plant for next year likewise is an investment not everyone can make – availability and care are critical elements in that plant being passed forward. That little plant and her seeds may be all that stands between it being grown in a hundred years or turning to dust never to be seen again. It’s an act of love. Much like planting a tree you will never really see the benefits from yourself, but having faith in a future that is beneficial for your children’s children. In Permaculture Design we design for effects into the 7th generation beyond our own. It’s how futures are made.

Diann Dirks


Auburn, Ga.






This entry was posted in Bee haven gardens, Flowering plants', food forest management, Food protection, Gardening, Life's Lessons, Living a happier life, organic gardening, Permaculture, pest management, Planet restoration, Planetary management using Permaculture, Recycle, repurpose, reuse, Saving seeds and cultivars, Seasonal gardening plants, Seed propagation, Self-Sustainability, Soil fertility and yield, Sustainable and safe seed companies, Uncategorized, winter gardening and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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