DIY Seed Bombs – Rogue Radishes and Crimson Blessings
July 17th, 2012 | D.I.Y., Grow Your Own, Healing, How-to, Sustainable, clover, crimson clover, diakon, garden, guerilla gardening, guerrilla gardening, Masanobu Fukuoka, permaculture, seed, seed balls, seed bombs, soil, urban
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, this holds the seeds and fertilizer together and makes it difficult for birds to eat the seeds before they get a chance to get growing.
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. Huge diakon have been known to grow out of asphalt, breaking it apart 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. (Check out images from the garden started with these seed bombs here)
Whenever I make and/or distribute these seed balls I send thanks to Masanobu Fukuoka for developing this method and remember his words:
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.
Crimson Blessing Seed Ball Recipe:
I use this mixture on very unhappy urban soil. If you let it go to seed it can also be harvested, so we can continue to use the seeds for the next season. Allow the “straw” to nourish the soil, by putting it back onto the earth. I like to add a few sunflowers as they help to absorb radioactive substances with their roots. This mix is mostly crimson clover with some wild flowers, diakon and a bit of inoculant to help the clover’s roots. Crimson Blessing is in memory of Masanobu Fukuoka and I 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)
Other types of clover can be used as any type is good for the soil. Fenugreek is good as well, although I have found fenugreek to sprout so fast they are best not mixed with other seeds in seed balls. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Plant these in the late spring when it is still raining a lot so you don’t need to water them.
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 I will put up a slide show of the garden soon too.
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 🙂
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.
I also posted this DIY project on www.instructables.com. Please feel free to stop by and give it a five star rating 🙂
The idea is cool and I see why kids especially would enjoy this type of project. I am considering making these but am concerned that the wetting (when you make it) and drying of the seeds in the “bomb” will reduce the germination rate. Seeds like to germinate in moist conditions like those of a freshly made ball.
Do the seeds germinate very well in your experience? Which seeds do the best in these? I think that these would work best when you can disperse them within a few days of making them and keep them well watered (unless there is enough rain).
Good questions. I have had no trouble germinating these seed bombs. Even when I haven’t used them until a year later they still germinate well. It doesn’t seem to matter if they are freshly made.
Seeds that do best are crimson and red clover and other green manure type seeds, but also wild flowers, calendula. The only thing is I would make the balls a bit smaller than these ones pictured.
Usually I try to disperse these seed balls in the spring or fall when there is plenty of rain and I don’t have to think about trying to be sure to water them. With the bigger size balls, the seeds will start sprouting on the outer edge of the ball and as the ball gets more moisture the inner seeds will then start to sprout.
Can I plant herb seed bombs in my backyard, like red clover so I have these plants growing wild free for the picking?
Yes go for it. I need to make some more seed bombs myself this year. May be good to add more of certain kinds of clay to your seedbombs too these days with all the radiation around. Like bentonite for example.
I do a less messy version with 100% recycled paper. You can add color that way. The paper acts as soil. No mess, and they make great party favors and who wants a mess of dirt and manure at a party so it might be a good alternative. These are great for the gardener types though!
Hey Hella D – this is a really cool post. I’ve never heard of seed bombs before.
Thanks for posting!
~Theresa @SCD Griddle