One of the most fun things to learn for fall and winter is how to make seed bombs. Tossing out balls of seeds for future germination is a fun and productive activity that you can do with friends, and children!
If you’ve never heard of seed bombs before, you’re in for a treat. They’re the main weapon guerilla gardeners around the world use, enabling them to sow seeds in areas that they would otherwise be unable to reach.
Guerilla gardeners also use seed bombs as a mode of ecological land management, dropping seed bombs in neglected fields and medians to provide food for wildlife. You may wonder what is a seed bomb? How do you make a seed bomb?
There are many ways to go about making seed bombs and many more reasons outside of guerilla gardening. In this piece, we’ll cover different ways to make your own seed bombs, and discuss why you would even want to in the first place.
Why Make Your Own Seed Bombs?
Before we answer how do you make plantable seed bombs, let’s discuss why you would want to make seed bombs at all. There are a lot of reasons to make your own seed bombs:
- Seed bombs help you garden in hard-to-reach areas
- You can beautify a barren lot with a floral explosion of your own wildflower seed
- Seed bombs help you garden in an area that’s otherwise “restricted”
- You can start seeds in a creative and organized way in your own garden
There are many of different ways to make seed bombs, and we’ll cover a few of them, including the Fukuoka Method — which is perhaps the best way to seed bomb. It’s extremely easy to make seed bombs in bulk and you can get it done with very few ingredients regardless of which method you choose.
A Few Tips Before You Make Your Seed Balls
One important caveat before you make seed bombs and spread seed bombs: avoid at all costs using seeds from species that are invasive to your locality. Your local extension office should have more information about this. Helping invasive species germinate in your community will offset the good done by making seed balls to begin with.
Additionally, you’ll notice much more success with native wildflower seed bombs. Locate a mix of native wildflower seeds, or create your own from those you know are native species. Not only will this make you more successful in your venture, you’re going to save yourself a lot of time an effort, as native wildflower seed bombs contain seeds that are already adapted to the local climate and geology.
One final consideration is the size of your seed bombs. The balls should be about the size of a small clay pellet you’d buy at the store. These are usually no more than 1/2 inch in diameter.
Methods for Making DIY Seed Bombs
Let’s discuss a few of the different ways to make DIY seed bombs at home. Then we’ll outline the process of spreading those seed bombs around. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of ways to make seed bombs, it does cover the classic clay method and a few innovations on that technique.
The Fukuoka Method
This seed bomb tech was developed by Japanese farmer and philosopher, Masanobu Fukuoka. Also known as the Earth Dumping Method, gardeners use native clay to bind flower seeds into a seed ball which quickly adapts to the local environment. Fukuoka developed the technique in the 1930s on his farm in Japan, where he seed bombed river banks, roadsides, and otherwise neglected areas to cultivate the earth.
This method is perfect for regenerative gardeners. While you can source clay externally, those adhering to the original method will use native clay, which they harvest from their locality. If clay is scarce in their immediate vicinity, they may source from lakes, ponds, seasides, or even local streams. Combine this with native seeds, and you’re working directly with the local flora by throwing native wildflower seed bombs.
Sourcing clay powder from your local garden center is also possible, and is a great alternative to sourcing locally. Powdered clay does cost more money, though. Both kinds of clay should be sifted to remove any large particulates. Often the clay will be added to compost and then formed into balls with the seeds intact.
Here is what you need for this seed bomb recipe:
- 3 parts sifted compost
- 5 parts sifted clay (local or clay powder sourced from a garden center)
- 1 part seed mix; wildflower mixes are great for this
- A tray or bucket for mixing
- Water from a hose, watering can, or squirt bottle
Use a mixing implement that is small enough for you to move it around without much effort. Begin by combining your ingredients in the tray and mixing them together well. Then add a small amount of water.
Sway the tray or bucket in a circular fashion, and watch small clay balls with seeds in them form. Add more water and repeat. Eventually all the material in your tray will form seed balls. Let them sit and harden in a cool, dry place for 24 to 48 hours before spreading them.
The Explosive Egg Method
This method was develop by the Guerilla Gardeners themselves as an alternative to the classic clay ball method. Instead of the flower seeds being contained within clay, they’re placed in a sterilized egg.
Here’s what you need to make your own explosive egg seed bomb recipe:
- A needle
- Eggs; use as many as you’d like to spread around
- A bowl
- Seed mix
Begin by using the needle to poke a hole at the top and bottom of the egg. Then use your mouth to blow the egg contents into the bowl. Use the eggs in cooking as needed. Note that you’ll need to use the eggs within a couple of days, because they’ll go bad after that.
Sterilize the egg shells in a saucepan of boiling water for 15 minutes. Be careful not to break the eggs. Dry them on a paper towel, and once they’re completely dry, cover the smallest hole, and insert the seeds in the larger hole. Each egg acts as a single seed bomb. Keep those you don’t want to use right away in a cool dry place.
The Paper Mache Method
For these homemade seed bombs, the medium here is not simply clay, and there’s no eggshell container. Instead, seeds are wrapped in moistened, reconstituted paper. Include some colorful construction paper for your own benefit, or if you’re making seed bombs with kids!
Here’s what you need for these homemade seed bombs:
- Several pieces of construction paper, recycled paper, or old newspaper
- Seed mix
- Compost (optional)
- Food processor
Begin by cutting your construction paper or recycled paper into 1 inch by 1 inch segments. Then place your segments into a small dish and cover them with water. If you choose to, place different colors in their own bowls. Soak them for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Wring out your bowls lightly, and pulse the soaked paper in a food processor. If you’ve chosen to keep different colored paper separated, pulse them in an isolated food processor session. Then return them to the small bowls and sprinkle in some of your seed mix. Add compost if you’ve chosen to use it.
If the recycled paper pulp is too dry to form into balls, sprinkle bits of water in until it can be formed. Then roll them into balls, and voila! You have fun, vibrantly-colored seed balls. Let them dry and harden over 24 to 48 hours before bombing.
How to Spread DIY Seed Bombs
Now that you’ve made your wildflower bombs, it’s time for planting seeds! Follow these instructions carefully to ensure you don’t waste time, energy, and most of all, seeds.
Sowing Seed Bombs At Home
At home, it’s much easier to see your successes and failures, and it’s fun to fill your yard with plants you like. There are a couple of different ways to sow your seed bombs or wildflower bombs, though.
You can simply moisten the wildflower bombs and throw them into corners you can’t reach easily. One thing to avoid when doing this is sowing among other prolific plants. You don’t want your seed bombs outcompeting your annual veggies.
You can also sow your wildflower bombs in pots to see which seeds are most viable. If you’ve decided to test which of the seed bomb types above are best, using a more controlled method for planting seeds is great. All you have to do here is fill a pot with rich, well-draining growing media, and place your seed ball within about halfway under the earth.
Place them in a sunny spot, and within a couple of weeks you’ll see sprouts.
Seed Bombing Your Neighborhood
While you might want to get out for a neighborhood walk and toss seed bombs all over the place (and we certainly can’t blame you for that) you want to exercise some discrimination about where you do this. This will save you time, effort, and seeds.
Avoid throwing seed bombs in your neighbor’s yard. In that same vein, while it may be tempting to throw them in a construction lot, it’s not the best idea. Anywhere the sprouts are likely to be moved, mowed down, or otherwise disturbed should be avoided.
Instead, seek out neglected areas. Spots like weedy medians, and vacant lots are perfect. Places you know will remain undisturbed for a time are great. Playgrounds and woodland edges which won’t see the blades of a lawn mower are optimal spots. Even the creek behind your house, which never gets mowed works.
Any leftover seed bombs can be stored in a cool dry place for a few years. They’ll remain viable in that time frame.
Now, go forth with your guerilla gardening and bomb the earth with seeds of change!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you make seed bombs with any seeds?
A: The short answer is yes. However, you probably want to use seeds that are already suited to your regional climate and geology. This will ensure you’re successful!
Q: How do you make seed bombs without clay?
A: We outline two methods that don’t involve clay above. One uses an egg as a container, and the other uses paper mache to hold the seeds within the ball.
Q: Are seed bombs a good idea?
A: When used discriminately and thoughtfully, yes. They’re a great idea.
Q: Do DIY seed bombs work?
A: They often do, especially when you use native wildflower seed bombs and spread them in areas where they won’t be disturbed. Then you can feed wildlife with native plants!
Q: Can you use potting soil for seed bombs?
A: If you don’t have compost handy, you can use potting soil instead.
Q: Do I bury seed bombs?
A: Bury them about halfway in the soil. While you may have success burying them deeper, they’re already in a medium, and don’t’ need to be underneath the soil surface.
Q: How big should a seed bomb be?
A: They shouldn’t’ be larger than 1/2 inch in diameter.