Hemp Balls

With 60% of our wildlife in the UK destroyed since the 1970’s it is important to take action in the countryside. The planet is in ecological crisis, we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event this planet has experienced.

‘Extinction Rebellion’ are an organisation committed to bringing certain truths about our situation to the many people who seem happy to ignore it and continue the pretence of ‘business as normal’. Our governments, of whatever colour, continue to see ‘nature’ as something to be exploited, controlled, profited from. Mostly, their souls are sold to the myth of economic development, ignoring the cost of the destruction of nature. Out in the wilds of Cornwall, where I live, its difficult to muster up enough person power for demonstrations, traffic stopping and other techniques which seem to annoy people in cities as ‘civil disobedience’ techniques. So here is a suggestion for what a ‘guerrilla gardening’ technique with a contemporary flavour. Seedbombing hemp.

Invented by the father of the ‘One Straw Revolution’, Masanobu Fukuoka used this technique for getting seed into inaccessible places. The original clay and compost seed-bombs protect the seeds until they are warm and wet enough to grow, then feed them when they start life. A couple of years ago I made these wildflower seedballs for Christmas presents and have been developing an improved recipe for the balls since the clay-based one didn’t work too well. I think the seeds started germinating inside the clay before it dried out and hence died. You can find out more about these here: http://www.simonmitchell.co.uk/seedbomb-christmas.html

I had read that in Africa they were experimenting with charcoal powder as a by-product and had mixed it with Cassava extract for use with seed bombs. I came up with a local replacement for this in the form of cornflour, plus a bit of sieved seed compost and proceeded to make balls! I had been making charcoal to improve my garden soil with ‘activated biochar’ and it was quite easy to powder some of it in a giant, home-made pestle and mortar. So I made about 50 balls during the summer, pushed a small hole into them and let them dry out in a shed.

I was fully informed as to the ridiculous situation with hemp, a plant that used to be a wild, indigenous species in the UK Hemp has been grown and used in the UK for thousands of years and was once one of the most valuable commodities in the country, if not the world. Records exist for the use of hemp in the UK in WWI however it was soon outlawed in 1928, while during WWII, an order placed for it to be imported from the US went unfulfilled as, after mistakenly being grouped with the psychoactive varieties of the Cannabis plant, the American Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 dissuaded farmers from cultivating it. In the UK it can only be grown under licence and it is illegal to grow it in the US.

There is lots of information online concerning the many uses attributed to hemp and if you are on here, reading this I am going to assume you are familiar with these. If not start here: https://www.ukhemp.co.uk/articles/a-brief-history-of-hemp-in-the-uk

So, after germination testing, I have put 3 hemp seeds into each of my seedballs (I don’t want to call them bombs). I sealed the hole with a bit of filler. They look like miniature snowballs as I dipped them in plaster of Paris to add a bit more strength and weight for throwing. If you were after some protest against the monocultures of farmers, and the loss of habitat and biodiversity here in the countryside throwing some of these might just give them ideas!

simonthescribe writes and publishes articles, books and websites themed around living a sustainable life in tune with nature.

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