An ancient idea for growing plants without digging or tilling.
Sometimes a no-dig gardener’s gotta do what they’ve gotta do and if that means chucking things around and hurling stuff everywhere; well so be it.
I’m talking about these vacant, unloved public spaces that some poor schlepper has to sneak out and beautify with flowers and vegetables.
You know who I’m talking to, you know it’s you… and you know if it’s not you, then it will be soon.
Without further ado, here’s what you do…
First the recipe:
* 5 parts dry clay
* 3 parts dry organic compost
* 1 part seed
* 1 – 2 parts water
Clay comes in all colors and quality. Red potter’s clay is perfect and can be bought online. Also garden centers, craft shops or farm suppliers sometimes sell clay powder.
Often if you dig down under your top soil to the subsoil, you’ll find clay. Make sure you go deep enough so there’s no sign of weed seeds. Excavations for building sites, ditches, drains or roadworks may also yield clay. This clay might need to be dried in the sun then any lumps smashed out of it with a spade or brick.
After mixing together all of the dry ingredients, slowly add water to the mixture to make a stiff dough. Add only enough water so that the mixture sticks together, but you don’t want a dry, crumbly mix so that it won’t role into balls.
When you get your mixture just right, make it into cherry or marble sized balls.
The next step is to dry them completely as quickly as possible to prevent the seeds from premature germination. With good weather the drying process should be around 48-72 hours. Some people dry them in the sun, but best not to as this could kill the seeds if they get too hot.
That’s it. Get yourself and any other willing troops ready. Your seed bombs are smokin’ hot ready to sprout into action.
Actually they are hard and cold, so keep them that way until you are ready to do your random hurling.
And another actual fact is that before they sprout they will most likely go through a sleep-over amongst some weeds. Fall/Autumn is the popular time for seed ball distribution and they land on the earth and wait for some rain to soften them.
Random notes on being a guerilla gardener, mud ball/seedball/nature bomber…
- The clay stops birds and mice from eating the seeds. It also stops the seeds from blowin’ in the wind. A hard clay ball can be tossed over a fence and a long way. Once the seeds sprout inside the balls, they will grow safely until they send their roots firmly into the ground.
- Once rain or some moisture softens the balls, the clay holds this dampness in to help the seeds germinate.
Depending on your weather and what seeds you use, your plants will sprout and start to slowly grow and come springtime, they will bloom and produce.
- Don’t put too many seed in each ball otherwise they may crowd each other out when they grow. Two or three seeds are good, but a few more if they are small flowering plants.
- A bicycle is a particularly good way to spread seedballs across the landscape. Nothing wrong with cars, trains and buses too. Especially for motorway embankments. For any local wastelands, fill up your bag and take a stroll.
- Good fun for kids to make. They’ll also go wild with delight with hurtling their seedbombs.
- Some seedy choices (or some choice seeds if you prefer): Native and bee-friendly wildflowers; milkweed to encourage monarch butterflies; herbs; vines such as melons, cucumbers, zucchinis, pumpkins; tomatoes; in fact any and all of your favorite flowers and veggies.
- Some veg are a bit wimpy when it comes to hardship. The likes of lettuce and fast growing, leafy greens often miss out on regular watering so can give up and go to seed. Having said that, I’ve seen the odd chard, silverbeet and kale that have thicker leaves, profusely growing amongst some council spaces and roadside strips.
- Berries and even trees can be grown this way, but you’re pushing your luck a bit because they need longer to establish and grow to a decent size before producing. Yes it would be lovely to have lemon trees and blueberries, but you have to contend with the fact that over the years your patch might be developed into a building site or a road-widening scheme.
Who knows where your seeds may land and what will grow!
You will need a certain amount of Mother Nature’s cooperation to successfully seed bomb. You may have to contend with iffy weather, wayward walkers, swerving vehicles and most fearsome of all — bureaucrats! “Section 2, Sub Clause 3, Item 4… thou shall not… blah, blah, blah.”
Otherwise those naughty seeds will grow their little hearts out for you and all the world to see.
MORE articles on sustainable gardening & eco-friendly natural living.
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