How To: Seed Grenade

Things like this will never look the same after reading our long interview with Sara Redstone, plant quarantine officer from Kew Gardens, London, but they’re still very cool.

This is how to make a “seed grenade,” “seed bomb,” or, more prosaically, seed ball.

Seed balls, simply put, are a method for distributing seeds by encasing them in a mixture of clay and compost. This protects the seeds by preventing them from drying out in the sun, getting eaten by birds, or from blowing away.

And they’re not new. The blog post I’m quoting from is more than two years old—but “the seed ball method” itself, we read,”has been working for centuries.”

I’ve read that some North American First Nations’ tribes used seed balls. More recently natural farming pioneer Masanobu Fukuoka has experimented with them. And, in New York City, seed bombs were used in 1973’s revitalization of the Bowery neighbourhood and the development of the city’s first community garden.

Landscapes at a distance. BLDGBLOG has already covered the idea of using military equipment in large-scale reforesting efforts, as well as the possibility of dropping “soil bombs” on Iceland.

But this wonderfully down-to-earth how-to guide for making everyday seed grenades saves you the hassle of purchasing decommissioned warplanes…

[Image: “This is what happens just a few day’s after dropping a seedbomb. The rain melted the clay and the compost, feeding the soil surrounding the bomb allowing for other plant growth.” Image and text from Guerilla Gardener’s Blog].

Just pack your seeds in a matrix of red clay, hurl your balls over a fence somewhere, and watch new worlds on the other side grow.

10 thoughts on “How To: Seed Grenade”

  1. a fine idea for the lazier gardeners among us. there's another way i've seen for making a similar project without the use of a plane, though admittedly needing a lot more work, courtesy of copenhagen's n55 group.

  2. I've used a similar 'recipes' in different locations. I would qualify the content a little depending on the region and the site to be 'bombed.' Use native seeds and be careful when shaping the balls as even organic fertilizers may cause some chemical burns.

    'Bomb' trashed urban lots, freeway dividers, etc.

  3. I'd also like to add that using a shell isn't necessary. I'd avoid the ornament or balloon and just use a wet clay mixture–its then fully biodegradeable and furthers your argument that you're not littering if you get caught.

  4. This is something I hadn't heard of before, it's a great idea though. Like Mindygirl, I disagree with chucking water balloons and glass ornaments all over the place.

    Minimal think led to variation of this.

    1) Buck shot for closer distances (but more spread).

    2) A seed frisbee, probably in the form of compost and seeds sandwiched between two biodegradable plates.

    3) Seed ball with tail. Attach a long string to a heavy seed ball, and to the string have small seed packets attached. Leaves a visible marker of where it was thrown from.

  5. I've often wondered about the social disruption effect of using this technique to seed marijuana plants. Spend a few weeks laying down bombs and then with the first rains pot starts growing on vacant lots and roadsides all over the city.

    Not something I'd actually do, but interesting to think about.

  6. I'm a high school senior applying to architecture school, and just discovered this blog. I can't believe I hadn't come across it before!

    My mom is a permaculture designer, so we have been making seed balls since I was little. We built a ballista, a type of medieval catapult, to throw them long distances. I've also pondered the idea of arrows with the seeds in the tip, so that when they stick in the ground, the seed (something like peas or tomatoes) have something to climb.

  7. come on you guys, what idiot would suggest a christmas ornament,those things are toxic… if your trying to help the earth the last thing you would want to do is throw christmas ornaments all over.. just weird what your suppost to do is use clay, wet peat or just plain mud and make balls and let them dry containing your seeds, the reason you need the dirt or clay is just to give you a weighty projectile to reach your intended target… anyway, peace

  8. Considering the wide variety of Christmas ornaments, I'm not sure how you conclude that they're toxic. I'm sure some are, but the post is referring to simple glass balls – glass is a cutting hazard, certainly, but it's no more toxic than sand.

    -E-

  9. When used for permaculture this is great, but what about a caveat where you advise viewers that it’s ILLEGAL to dump seed bombs on private property. Dumping is a TRESPASS. Here’s what’s going on in my part of the upper middle class world: whenever a neighbor has a problem with another neighbor he or she bombards their neighbor’s house with seed bombs. Seed bombs not only ruin landscapes that cost thousands of dollars to plant but they also invite rodents. That’s correct–rats, white footed mice, brown mice, chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels, many birds and their predators are attracted to seed balls/bombs. The rodents chew up expensive roots on bushes, trees and herbaceous plants as they desperately try to eat all the seeds and moss. Rodent’s poop also attracts their predators, and those predators tear up the garden looking for rodents. Seed bombing private property other than yours can cause the destruction of property and it is illegally dumping. Dumping is against the law and you can get a fine, arrested or sued for such acts. As for children, anyone teaching them to throw seed balls on private property other than their own, is encouraging bullying and unlawful behavior, and therefore corrupting minors.

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