How to Make Seed Bombs
Undoubtedly you have heard of guerrilla gardening and seed bombs. The most popular seed bomb recipe was invented by Japanese farmer, Masanobu Fukuoka. If you would like to beautify an empty lot or neglected planters seed bombs are the perfect option. With a bit of clay, soil and seeds you can create seed bombs in an afternoon that will sprout plants and flowers in hard-to-reach areas. I call my method of making seed bombs, the lazy guerrilla gardener’s way of making seed bombs, because the ingredients do not require mixing, and you don’t need water. See the video and photos below on how to make seed bombs for all the details.
Guerrilla Gardening Seed Bomb Video
I’ve held hands-on workshops where I’ve taught urban gardeners how to make seed bombs at seed swaps and events in Chicago like a Prince concert (yes, that Prince) and at Macy’s Flower Show. Here’s a video demonstrating how I make guerrilla gardening seed bombs really quickly and easily. Please note that in the video I accidentally say morning glory when I meant marigolds. :0)
Guerrilla Gardening Seed Bomb Recipe
The traditional seed bomb recipe calls for mixing clay, soil or compost, water and seeds. In my lazy seed bomb recipe, I skip the mixing of ingredients by purchasing a block of potter’s clay at the craft store. This is just natural clay that doesn’t need a kiln or an oven to dry. It will dry out by itself once exposed to air. Take a pinch of your seed bomb clay in your hand and flatten it out like in the picture above.
Next, place a pinch or more of seed bomb soil in the center of your flattened-out piece of clay. The type of soil you use should not be a big concern. This is a mixture of potting soil mix, seed starting mix and some organic material like coir that I had left over from the previous growing season. Feel free to use compost or any growing medium you have on hand. You don’t need anything special because the medium is just there to help keep the seed(s) moist when they are exposed to moisture.
In this example I am using peas for my seed bombs. Seeds that are hard, round, and small work best for this method of making seed bombs because there is little chance of them breaking when you are rolling up your seed bomb.
Once you have added soil and seeds to your piece of clay it is time to start rolling it into a ball. Start making a seed bomb by folding it as if you were making a pierogi, empanada, or wanton. Once you have the seed bomb soil and seeds safely enclosed in the clay start to work them into the shape of a ball with the palms of your hand.
Keep rolling the seed bomb ingredients and working them into a ball shape in the palm of your hand. If you find that some of the soil starts to break through the clay, just keep rolling the ball into your hand and incorporating the soil back in the ball. That’s all there is to rolling a seed bomb.
Here are two seed bombs that I made. On the right is a seed bomb that I left to dry in the open air on my porch for a couple of days, and on the left, a seed bomb I just rolled. After you guerrilla garden with your seed bombs in the spot where you want to grow some plants, the clay is washed away by water and moisture, exposing the soil inside and the seed to moisture which helps it germinate. As I mentioned above, the kind of soil here is not very important. You can use cheap potting soil, or expensive seed starting soil, or you can use your own homemade seed starting compost. The soil inside is only there to help keep the seed(s) inside moist and help with germination.
Best Seeds for Seed Bombs
If you use this method of making seed bombs, I would recommend sticking to smaller seeds. Seeds that are round. And seeds with a hard coating so you don’t worry about breaking the seeds. However, if you would like to use seeds that are flat or papery it is still possible. See the seed bomb making video I included above for a trick on how to use seeds like zinnias.
There are a lot of recipes and directions for making seed bombs on websites, blogs and garden books. All of them work just fine. This way of making seed bombs works for me because it doesn’t require any mixing or water. Eliminating those steps makes this an ideal project for garden workshops because it’s quick, easy, and I can easily carry all of the seed bomb recipe ingredients in backpack on the bus or trains around Chicago. I purchased the brick of clay at a Michaels arts and crafts store, and used a 40% off coupon. So the clay costs me less than $5.00.
Whether you call them seed bombs, or seed balls, they’re the same thing. A seed delivery mechanism employed by guerrilla gardeners to beautify our surrounds. Thanks to the ingenuity and creativity of Masanobu Fukuoka there are now a lot ways of making seed bombs. If you’re wondering how to makes seed bombs with kids, follow this seed bomb recipe as it requires a lot less cleanup afterwards. And don’t forget to watch the seed bomb video for tips on making seed bombs of small and fragile seeds. Feel free to add more soil to your seed bomb than I did, or to start with a flatter piece of clay.