What: Seedbombs, or seedballs are a mixture of clay, compost and seeds that are designed to improve ecology in blighted often hard to reach areas. The components are simply mixed together into balls that can easily be dropped or thrown in an appropriate place.
How: The clay prevents the compost and seeds from being washed away in rain and keeps them damp. The seeds will sprout plants that need the compost for nutrients required for successful early growth. Giving the seeds this starter package helps root them and protects them from birds and rodents who eat as much as 80% of broadcast seed. They also give you a way to get them where you want them.
History: Animals have been delivering seedbombs in the form of their scat for eons. Bird and mammal droppings continue a main package and source of seed spread, but not in Brooklyn. There is some dispute about when people started making seedbombs, some attribute them to native Americans they have also been documented in ancient Japan where they are still called Tsuchi Dango (Earth Dumpling). In 1938 Masanobu Fukuoka became the modern father of seedbombs using them in large scale agriculture and evangelizing their wonder. From the 1970’s NYC’s own Green Guerrillas have gained positive recognition for using seedbombs to start gardens in disused lots and wastelands.
Why: Seedbombs replicate a natural process that’s impossible in the urban environment, plants help prevent runoff, take up carbon dioxide, hold down dust, create oxygen and cleaner air. Greening adds value and beauty to a neighborhood; a lot full of flowers is better than a lot full of garbage. They also help promote biodiversity, for example flowers provide food for pollinators. Also, It’s fun!
Where: Ideally you want a location that has some soil or grow medium already present, will get rain water and sunlight- quality isn’t a hangup. (seedbombs have succeeded on abandoned parking lots, but can have difficultly stretching their roots) Abandoned lots, roadsides, wastelands, brownsites, gravel roofs (sparingly), are all prime locations. They can also thrive in neglected tree beds (not sunflowers), planters, and just about anywhere. Remember: chose responsibly- parks, established gardens, and obstructive placements are considered off limits.
Wet clay Recipe ( makes aboit 20 seedbombs)
cup wet clay (non toxic, color doesn’t matter)
2-3 cups compost, or high quality dirt (potting mix works if in a pinch) 2 teaspoons water (or as needed to keep mixture moist)
50-+ seeds of a desired seed mix ( think of what type of area your seedbombs will be used in, use the internet or ask at a garden store what will work best in the conditions – use native plants if possible they’ll grow great! sunflowers are a good one to start with)
Directions: Put down newspaper over work area for faster clean up. In mixing bowl mush together the clay and dirt until mixture is uniform, your hands are the best tool. If the mixture becomes too dry to stick together add a few drops of water, it should not be wet! Take a pinch of the dough the size of a quarter, add 3-5 seeds, pancake another pinch of dough on top and roll into a ball. Let seed bombs fully dry in warm sunny place- store in dry dark location. Toss seedbombs in abandoned lots, blighted neighborhoods etc.
Dry clay Recipe (makes about 20 seedbombs)
1cup dry clay (don’t inhale)
2 cups compost
+- 50 seeds (see above)
6 Tablespoons water
Mix dry clay, dirt and seeds, add water until mixture is damp, though not wet. Form into balls. Let dry. Deploy.
Seed bomb mixtures are an art! Now that you’ve got the basics down try experimenting with the composition! Using natives:
Native Americans have been using wild sunflower for food and medicine for at least 8,000 years. Archeological evidence suggests that Native Americans began cultivating and improving the sunflower as early as...