How to make seed bombs (Nendo dango)

The pumps seed or seed beads are an ancient way to spread the seeds of plants that do not require any previous work or work on the ground. Masanobu Fukuoka ( natural agriculture ) rediscovered this way of sowing, put it into practice for decades and taught it this way. The seed pumps became a success as no tillage is required, thus saving a lot of time and effort. It is also very useful and easy to use this technique, which in addition to being used in natural agriculture served to repopulate and help conserve the native flora. Of course, it is also optimal to use in our organic garden and vegetable garden.

Fukuoka grew rice, barley, fruit trees and vegetables with minimal tillage on the land and with hardly any organic matter added. He called this type of techniques that he used on his farm «natural agriculture.»

Seed pumps

The seed balls are composed or made by a mixture of clay (preferably volcanic, red) and organic material such as compost, vermicompost or humus, and you can also add paper cut into thin strips, straw or even cotton and the seeds you want. All the ingredients that we use must be processed and be as fine as possible so that later the seeds can germinate.

Fukuoka recommended the use of red volcanic clay, rich in iron, because unlike white or green clay it does not break apart and is not as brittle and brittle. However, I encourage you to try and experiment with the clays that you have locally. In all cases it is very important that the clay does not contain pebbles or other materials and that it is very fine, so you will have to pass it through several filters. The same would be done with the compost, it is filtered several times until obtaining a fine powder without stones or large pieces.

The mixture gets wet and is formed compacting all the ingredients. They are left to dry and are thrown where and when we want to sow the seeds. As simple as that.

nendo dango

This method has been used to repopulate forests and other degraded natural areas and has obtained very good results. It is also achieved without causing any type of damage or harm to the soil and without altering its natural balance.

How to make seed bombs

You need:

  • 5 parts dry clay powder
  • 3 parts compost
  • 1 part seed mix
  • Water

We can make them in two ways: one way to make them is by hand one by one and another way is to put all the ingredients on a smooth and uniform surface and move it in circles until balls are formed.

In the first case, to make the seed balls, you combine all the ingredients and add enough water so that you can model the balls and they remain very compact. Take amounts of the mixture and make the balls one by one, they should be compact. If we are not going to use the pumps at that time, we leave them in the sun so that they dry well and the seeds do not germinate.

In the second case, you put all the dry ingredients in a tray with a smooth and regular base and move them to mix together. Add squirts of water while moving the tray in circles. Keep adding small amounts of water little by little and moving in circles so that the balls are formed. As in the other way of preparing the seed bombs, if the seed bombs are not going to be used immediately, let them dry well in the sun to avoid moisture inside the ball and the seeds to germinate.


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