Introduction: Seeds for My City - Easy to Make Seed Bombs

About: Local Food. Global Flavor. Food for roots, health, peace and community. A food oriented DIY culture.
The technique for creating seed balls was developed by Japanese natural farming pioneer Masanobu Fukuoka. Seed balls or seed bombs are very easy to make. The secret ingredient is clay which holds the seeds and fertilizer together this makes it difficult for birds to eat the seeds before they get a chance to get growing.

It is best to make seed balls in spring or fall as the weather will still be cool as they are drying and you will have time to get the balls distributed while there is plenty of rain.

With seed bombs you can make a beautiful variety of gardens! When you know the type of soil you are planting on etc you can adjust your seed mix accordingly. I have tested out several mixtures of seeds, the one that worked the best on hard, depleted, stony and packed urban soils, was a mixture of crimson clover with diakon and wildflowers. Any kind of clover is great for nourishing the soil. Diakon radish is added because it is such a powerful plant, I have seen images of a huge diakon growing out of asphalt in Japan -- diakon are great at helping to break up earth that is packed and rocky so that roots can grow deeper. Wildflowers add some diversity and I usually like to put in a couple sunflowers.

Whenever I make and/or distribute these seed balls I send thanks to Masanobu Fukuoka for developing this method and think of the words of Masanobu Fukuoka:

Right Food.
Right Action.
Right Awareness.

Masanobu Fukuoka was my inspiration for getting into guerrilla gardening. His book The One Straw Revolution describes such a beautiful way of life. Check out this video to see Masanobu Fukuoka demonstrating how to make seed balls.

Whenever I am out watering my garden I look at the large intersection and gas stations that are all around it and just imagine a day when the whole area is covered in wildflowers and trees. Sometimes it is hard to do. Every day there is new trash to pull out of my garden (I know it looks like I am just cultivating weeds, but I love those kind of plants.) Sometimes my flowers get stolen :( Sometimes they get mowed down, and that is when I cry the hardest.

This little garden is going to take over this whole intersection someday. In the meantime the bees just love it.

Step 1: Basic Ingredients

Basic Seed Ball Recipe
  • 5 parts clay
  • 3 parts compost
  • 1 part seeds
  • 1 - 2 parts water

Step 2: Crimson Blessing

I have used this mixture on very unhappy urban soil and harvested, so that I can continue to use the seeds for the next season and allow the "straw" to nourish the soil for the next season. I like to add a few sunflowers as they help to absorb radioactive substances with their roots. This mix is mostly red crimson clover with some wild flowers, diakon and a bit of inoculant to help the clover. Crimson Blessing is in memory of Masanobu Fukuoka and think of him when I spread these seed balls around the city.
  • 5 parts red clay
  • 3 parts sea soil for compost
  • 1 part seeds (red clover, sunflower, diakon)
  • 1 - 2 T inoculant (optional)
There are some kind of squash seeds in the photo too which didn't grow at all. I also added fenugreek to this mixture, but fenugreek seeds sprout so fast they don't do so good in a mixture with other seeds.

Other types of clover can be used as any type is good for the soil. Fenugreek as well. I added an inoculant to help with the roots as they have a symbiotic relationship with particular micro-organisms that helps with absorption of nutrients.

Step 3: Method

Mix together dry ingredients and blend well.

Once the dry ingredients are well blended add in the water. Start with the smaller amount and mix well with your hands. This is the best part! Kids love this mixing process.

Add more water as needed until the clay, seeds and fertilizer hold together into the shape you press or roll them into. Pack them fairly tightly by rolling them in your palms before shaping.

Images show seed mixture, clay and soil/compost mixture. The seed mixture image below contains wild flowers, calendula, diakon and sunflowers and made a beautiful garden that the bees enjoyed tremendously.

Step 4: Shaping the Seed Bombs

Roll seed balls into desired shape. You can make various shapes. I usually just make small round and square ones. Some folks like to make them into the shape of hearts, stars, moons, grenades, ovals etc.

I find if the seed balls are too big the plants don't have as much space to grow in so I try to keep them smaller. The one pictured below is a bit big.

Step 5: Dry

It can take a couple days to get your seed balls nicely dried out depending on where you are making them and how big they are. I prefer to make mine smaller as there is plenty of seeds packed into these little balls that need their own space to grow in.

If I make a couple kinds of seed balls I generally give each one it's own shape in hopes that will help me to remember which one is which.

Step 6: Plant and Grow

Plant these in the late spring when it is still raining a lot so you don't need to water them. As they grow you will be able to decide what size balls work the best for your situation. In my case I should have made smaller balls. The purpose of the clay is to keep the seeds tightly balled together so that birds can't just come along and eat all the seeds strewn across the land.

The Crimson Blessing seed bombs made a lovely crimson garden by a major city road. I kept them watered during the summer when it was hot and dry to help them out as much as possible because the soil here was really barren.

The next year I planted a herb garden which is happily growing all kinds calendula, yarrow, tarragon etc

Step 7: Seed Saving

The great thing about this is that you can collect the seeds and do it all again next year for as long as you like. You can even give the seed balls to friends. They make lovely party favors :)

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