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21.4.14

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.

How to Make Seed Bombs

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


Seed Bomb Clay

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.

Seed Bomb Soil

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.

Seed Bomb Seeds

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.

Making a 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.

Rolling a Seed Bomb

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.

Seed Bombs

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.

Have you ever made  or tossed a seed bomb?   

33 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you wrote about this process. I plan to do this with my daughter and her friends and Brownie troop. I'm hoping they get a kick out of checking up on their bomb results all summer. Thank you for the great instructions!

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    1. ZP, Thanks for the feedback. I hope your kicks get a kick out of the seed bomb making process.

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  2. MBT, what fun! I assume that the next step is implied ... walk by the site and just toss the bomb and let it gro on its own? I love the odea. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Webb, yeah. After the seed bombs have dried just take them to the area you want to seed and toss them. Preferably right before a good rain to help the clay wash away.

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  3. Never heard of such a thing ! Brilliant. So is that the idea? You just toss them somewhere that is neglected and needs a bit of color? And what's with the peas? Are we growing vegetables too, or just like the blooms of pea plants?

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    1. Hi Dolly, Yeah, after you have made and dried your seed bombs just take them and toss them where you want them to grow. I used peas because I had extra seeds, but I also like the blooms and I'll be tossing them along a fence where they'll grow up the fence and look pretty cool.

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  4. I love this idea!!!

    Can't wait to make my own seed bombs. I can honestly say I have never heard of seed bombs.

    The directions are so clear too, thanks for sharing this! =) Now my 4 year old will have yet another excuse to get dirty.

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    1. Hi Laura, glad you found the post interesting. Kids especially love the idea of making seed bombs because, as you mentioned, they love to get their hands dirty. Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. Great tutorial! I can't wait to give this a try!

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    1. Glad you liked it Garden Broad.

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  6. Leave it to you to have some great, unusual "take" on propagating seeds!!! :-) Thanks for the fun idea and great how-to! Happy Spring!!

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    1. Hope you're having a good spring, Shady Gardener.

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  7. I started watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and peppers indoors four weeks ago.
    I have been keeping a weekly garden update on tasks/what to grow all year and how to garden for free. Please check out my website @ http://veganslivingofftheland.blogspot.com

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  8. Wow this is pretty amazing idea to grow plants at some hard to grow places. Thanks for the post.

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    1. You're welcomed. Thanks for reading, Susan.

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  9. I have been wanting to make some of these for awhile. I'll have to try it!

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    1. Meemsnyc, Hope you get a chance to make your own seed bombs.

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  10. Great idea. We like it so much, we're pinning it to The Home Depot Garden Club Pinterest board. Thanks for sharing! Lynn 4 THD

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    1. Hi Lynn,

      Thanks for sharing the post.

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  11. Awesome idea! We've done something similar in the past with soil. I'll have to try it with clay, though. The soil seemed to erode too fast.

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    1. Tracey,
      Yeah using clay to make your seed bombs will help you out if the soil is eroding too fast for the seeds to germinate.

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  12. Thanks for sharing wonderful information, it is really nice information.

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  13. Many thanks for this wonderful information. It is truly helpful. Will definitely try this one out!

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  14. I made some in the past, and the clay did not work well. I am looking an alternative to be used in desert conditions - that can break down easier with less water. Any suggestions on a clay composition? I tried using desert clay, from the salt beds, and it didn't work well either.

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  15. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Thanks for creating this - it's great! I was wondering why, for the more delicate seeds, you flatten the clay before rolling it into a ball. Thanks again! -Brenda

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  16. Anonymous10:34 AM

    How long can you wait before "planting" these? If our garden club makes these for planting milkweed, when would we need to make and then plant them? I understand that milkweed seeds need to scarify.

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    1. Milkweed is good for butterflies and okay for bees, but its sap triggers allergies. Anyone sensitive who plays with the plumes and then touches their eyes is going to have a very bad time (I didn't know about this growing up - I'm glad I'm not allergic b/c I played with milkweed every summer.) --- There's better options, especially for bees. Bees, Butterflies, Beauty - pick 2 and I'll give you a few semi-invasive plants that are better than Milkweed.

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  17. Your info and demo is great but what about the timing? If using seed bombs in natural areas on your own property, what are the ideal conditions for germination? Will the bomb method work if the clay is washed away long before there's enough warmth for the seed to grow?

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  18. How long can you store these seeds for if not planting immediately?

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