Seeds away!

One of our nursery volunteers loves to grow plants and was wondering how to regrow the native plants and trees on the many slips in the Waitakere River valley. Usually those barren sites get colonized by weeds before the native trees can take hold. Planting like we do here at Matuku Link on our regular volunteer days isn’t possible, as most slips are inaccessible or too steep. How can we give our natives a head start? We can’t wait for the birds to spread the seeds… but we can throw them up there! Not individually, but definitely as a clump, a “seed ball”. She started to gather appropriate local seeds (karo, karamu, ti kouka, pohutukawa, cassinia, Pseudopanex lessonii, koromiko, harakeke, manuka and kanuka) and researched how to stick the seeds together.. Turns out that Google even has recipes for that… a week later a group of keen seed ball makers came together and sifted seeds, peeled sticky karo seeds from their pods, mixed clay, potting mix and soil with some fertiliser and made 780 very small square ‘pallets’. Not balls at all, more like thick square clumps of blue-tack! A trial had shown they needed to dry for two days before they were solid enough to throw against the barren banks. That same trial also showed it was quite hard to throw far enough up a slip. Which lead to a call out amongst friends for throwing devices. Armed with a slingshot, a shanghai and eight ice cream containers with seed pallets, a small team sett off to Te Henga/ Bethells Beach and hurtled them towards the huge slip above the lagoon. None of the devices were very successful but the fish bait cannon saved the day! Pumped to 120 psi with a bicycle pump, loaded with a especially shaped slice of potato and 30 seed balls and in the hands of its owner, those seeds balls went flying!

And now we can only hope that some of the seeds germinate and take hold on the clay and silt… as we didn’t do the slip next to it, we have a control site and we just have to wait and see.

The moral of the story: there is always someone with a brilliant idea to give our environment a bit of help. Add friends and fellow plant lovers, some ingenuity and a beautiful morning on the beach and you’ve got a recipe for success – and for seed pallets. Thank you for letting me tag along!