Broadcast your Seeds Onto the Forest Floor

Aloha Farms food forest - Nasturtium seedlings under Lemon Tree

Aloha Friends,

We have good news for you!

 

You don’t have to meticulously plant seeds in your soil and cover them back up!  They will sprout if you toss them out on top of the mulch on the forest floor and wait for the rainwater to germinate them.

 

Onion seedlings popping up through mulch
Onions sprouting from seed that was broadcast onto the mulch. The seeds germinated when the rains came.

During summer of 2016, our beets, carrots, onions, lettuces, arugula, flax, basil, parsley, etc. produced thousands of seeds!!!  That is way too many seeds to plant individually. 

We experimented this summer by broadcasting thousands of our own seeds onto the mulch layer to see if they would come up.  Why shouldn’t they?  Weed seeds easily sprout up through mulch. We tossed out the seeds right onto the mulch surface and left them there for a couple of months.  When the rain came in autumn, they sprouted.

 

Lettuce seeds that landed on top of the mulch sprouted into lettuce plants
Romaine lettuce seeds that landed on top of the mulch sprouted into healthy romaine lettuce plants
Leaf lettuce growing from seed that was tossed out over the mulch on the forest floor
Many varieties of lettuce grow successfully from seed

One of the most important aspects of a forest is the covering of organic material on the forest floor.  Our soil is covered about 1/2″ – 1″ deep in a variety of organic mulch. 

Some people think that you have to part the mulch to plant the seeds in the soil underneath. This may be true for certain larger seeds like corn or pumpkin, but this was not the case for  our tiny seeds.

 

Carrots growing from seeds broadcast on top of the mulch
Up come some carrot seedlings!

 

Carrots thriving on the forest floor after we scattered the seeds and let them grow where they landed!
Carrots thriving on the forest floor after we scattered the seeds and let them grow where they landed!

 

Flax growing from flax seeds that were broadcast onto the surface of the mulch.
Flax growing from flax seeds that were strewn onto the surface of the mulch.

 

One day, just as the seedlings were starting to appear, many crows landed on the forest floor and started digging up the seeds.  After chasing them away, we placed this dragon kite in a tree near the seedlings.  

Crows think this Dragon Kite is a DEAD BIRD and won't come near it!
Crows think this Dragon Kite is a DEAD BIRD and won’t come near it!
The dragon kite is simply perched in a tree
The dragon kite is simply perched in a tree

This dragon kite scared the crows so much that they haven’t come back into the garden since we hung it in this tree!Apparently crows are afraid if you hang a DEAD BIRD on a tree or a pole for them to see.  Now the crows fly by, and when they see this scary dragon kite which looks like a dead bird, they cry out with a fearful CAW and they won’t land anywhere near it!   Even our pet turkeys are afraid of this kite and moan fearfully when they see it!

Compared to our first scarecrow, which didn’t seem to do anything at all – this has been amazing!

 

 

Aloha Farms food forest Scarecrow - scared us more than it did the crows!
This scarecrow didn’t scare the crows at all! He did, however, startle us at times!

 

 

 

Here are more seedling pictures.

Aloha Farms food forest, where a few onions have now turned into a field of onions - and there's no end in sight!
By planting the roots of green onions from the store after we ate the green tops, the roots grew into large green onion plants, which developed seeds that we distributed around the garden. Now we now have a field of green onions growing, and you can see there are seeds getting ready to create exponentially more onion plants! This is a great picture of nature’s abundance!
Aloha Farms food forest - new green onions growing next to the seed source - the previous generation of onions
See how the seeds of the onions drop all around and new onions begin to grow.
Aloha Farms food forest floor May, 2017 - this is the inside area of the "Middle Garden", which we had previously fenced in with portable fencing to protect the seedlings. In this picture are onions, strawberries, lettuce, and other seedlings that have established themselves on the forest floor, replacing the old weeds.
Aloha Farms food forest floor May, 2017 – this is the inside area of the “Middle Garden”, which we had previously fenced in with portable fencing to protect the seedlings. In this picture are onions, strawberries, lettuce, and other seedlings that have established themselves on the forest floor, replacing the old weeds.

 

Aloha Farms food forest - section of seedlings that we never fenced in and it's doing well! These seeds were planted using the "Replace Weeds with Seeds" method, and the seed-planting took place during a light rain, which was followed by a more substantial rain. Timing the seed-planting with the rain speeds the seedlings growth. We have fewer rabbits & squirrels this year too, which is why they can grow freely!
Aloha Farms food forest – section of seedlings that we never fenced in and it’s doing well! These seeds were planted using the “Replace Weeds with Seeds” method, and the seed-planting took place during a light rain, which was followed by a more substantial rain. Timing the seed-planting with the rain speeds the seedling’s growth. We have fewer rabbits & squirrels this year too, which is why they can grow freely! (Thanks to our resident Coyote – and that’s another wonderful story we hope to share with you soon!)
Aloha Farms food forest - Nasturtium seedlings under Lemon Tree
Aloha Farms food forest – Nasturtium seedlings under Lemon Tree. These are from the third or fourth generation of nasturtium seeds. Each new generation includes many new colors and varieties of nasturtiums!
Nasturtium flowers growing from seed sprinkled around on the mulch
Last year’s nasturtium flowers growing from seed sprinkled around on the mulch
Aloha Farms food forest romaine lettuce producing seeds
Here are the yellow flowers of the romaine lettuce plants. Each individual  flower will produce about 20 more seeds for new romaine lettuce plants!

 

An abundance of calendula flowers growing from seed scattered around the forest floor
An abundance of calendula flowers growing from seed scattered around the forest floor

We hope you are happy to learn about how easy it can be to plant seeds when you have a food forest! 

We wish you Peace, Abundance, and – let’s say it together –  Aloha!

Author: Tutu Sainz

We are a couple of urban food foresters on 1/2 acre in the San Diego County area. We love our food forest, it feels like a garden of eden and it's always fun to work here and eat the food we grow, and to walk around and look at the beautiful plants and trees that are growing here. We believe food forests are the key to abundance for everyone everywhere!