Seed balls—or as we prefer to say, seed bombs, since they are designed to be lobbed over fences and out of car windows—are a great way to plant seeds of all sorts in places you can't take close care of, such as meadows, roadside strips, and stream banks. (The activity of tossing seed balls is sometimes called guerrilla gardening because you can stealthily bomb unsuspecting neighbors' yards and other off-limits spots with flowers.) Encasing the seeds in balls of absorbent material (often a blend of clay and compost or soil) that dries into a hard coating hides the seeds inside from hungry birds and animals and soaks up moisture from rain and dew, holding it near the seeds so they can germinate and grow into seedlings. As the seedlings grow, the coating slowly breaks down and the roots can reach down into the soil, rooting firmly in the earth where they have a good chance of continuing to grow.
(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)
But we especially love seed bombs because they get non-gardeners excited about growing something. Seed bombs make planting easy and effective for all the reasons we just mentioned, and, more importantly, it's just really fun to chuck balls full of seeds across your yard (or your neighbor's yard!) and imagine the wildflowers that will eventually spring up in those spots. That's why, with a bit of dressing up, they make perfect party favors for just about every type of gathering, from bridal showers to office events. Plus, it's something your guests can use and enjoy, as opposed to a trinket that will get stuffed in the back of a drawer and then eventually thrown away.
1. Flatten clay into a sheet with your palm. Sprinkle seed starting mix or compost and wildflower seeds in center of clay, and knead until everything is mixed in and seeds and soil are well distributed.
2. Roll clay out into a thin snake.
3. Pinch off ½-inch sections and roll into balls.
4. Place on a tray to dry and harden (about 24-48 hours; leaving them in the sun will speed things up).
5. Cut fabric or tissue paper into 4-inch squares. Place 5-6 seed bombs in the center of the fabric, gather ends, and tie with string. Add label before tying bow.
It's a good idea to include planting instructions on the reverse side of the label so that guests uninitiated into the world of guerrilla gardening aren't confused about what they're supposed to do with the seed bombs. Since the beauty of seed bombs is that the clay helps the seeds to survive almost anywhere, you can simply write something like, "Plant or toss in a sunny spot." That's it, you're done!
(You may also want to note that seed bombs do best when "planted" just before a rainy season, such as early spring or early fall. Plus, sowing annual seeds in fall gives them a head start in spring, and seed bombs are a great way to protect them throughout winter and up their chances of germination.)
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