Make Your Own Seed Bombs! Or diy seed balls, as I call them. It is a cool crafts for kids: a fun Spring break craft, or Weekend activity with the kids. And a useful one too if you want to have a field of wild flowers around your house & in your neighborhood. You’ll love to make your own seed balls, as it gives seed an edge over regular direct-earth-bound seed, helping the seed in their early phases of growth and strengthening them by being outdoors from the get-go, resulting in stronger, more resistant plants. And there are more benefits. Seed bombs are great for wild flowers. But please do not stop there!!!
How do seed bombs work?
Explained in more detail below, here it is in a nutshell:
1. Add some compost to your clay ground (optional step needed for clay veggie gardens, not for wild flowers).
2. Get your seed out.
3. Take a bit of clay, natural compost and a few seeds, and roll them in a ball. Let the balls dry till it’s planting season.
4. Throw your clay bombs and get a luscious wildflower-filled back yard. For wild flowers, you can throw your seed balls around randomly. For a veggy garden, you may wish to pursue a bit more orderliness, by including only 1 or max 2 different type of (compagnon) seeds and by ‘lining’ your balls up in a row on your prepared veggy patch.
Garden Companion Planting with Seed Bombs
Companion planting starts at the Planting Phase. Go through your organic seed collection and find a bunch of different seed of plants that work well together.
We previously made butterfly attracting wild flower seed bombs, to grow beautiful flowers throughout our yard and in our neighborhood. As it was too early in February to plant these, we dried them for use in Spring. These seed bombs take a bit of the guess work out of determining when to plant which seed as the seed bombs offer shelter to dormant seed while allowing early starters their growth.
To get ready for your food growing season (desperately trying to keep GMO out of our lives), we went through our collection of heirloom Italian vegetable seeds.
Seed balls are sometimes called seed bombs. The reason for that is that they can be thrown anywhere, and create flowers (‘bombs’) in unlikely places where no humans can pass (safely), such as along the railroad lines, or in funky areas that are too small or dangerous to walk on, think ledges, along dikes or strips of grass on motor highways. Seed bomb throwers who plant wild flowers by throwing the balls out of train windows etc. are called ‘guerilla gardeners’. So now, you are up with the latest terminology.
Who Invented Seed Bombs aka Seed Balls ??
Fukuoka, author of the fabulous organic growing book ‘The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming (New York Review Books Classics)’, is the person who first introduced me to the concept of seed balls.
OK. Fukuoka’s seed balls are thrown onto the land. Only the strongest seeds survive, creating a healthy crop and harvest. Fukuoka does not believe in weeding or ploughing, but believed in farming without machines! If you are a gardener or a (hobby) farmer, you will find his work very interesting! It is more natural and it is easier. I love Fukuoka’s books! Inspirational + informational. ( If you are interested in Fukuoka, be sure the One straw revolution, but to also get this book, Natural Way of Farming: The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy, as this book sets out how to organize your natural farm and live self-sufficiently in the most fabulous and easiest of ways).
Read the books to get a much better understanding. For today, let’s just highlight Fukuoka’s insight that when you use seed balls you don’t need to turn or plough your land! As you can see, the benefits of seed balls are many! So, we made some.
How to work with Clay Soil
Now, before I show you how to make seed bombs, let me first tell you about my circumstances here, as that explains why and how I work in my garden.
Here in my garden in Brighton, UK, I have the heaviest of clay ever. Not sure that all seeds / plants that I have here, can work with this kind of soil, but we can try.& I think clay is one of the hardest soils to manage: it’s so heavy and slippery when wet. And its density makes it hard for roots to go through.
So, my step #1 is to improve the soil by adding loads of compost. All my kitchen scraps go into that front garden soil, which does btw, get lovely sun all day. I know that frequent and lavish amounts of organic matter are needed before planting most vegetables. So, I have started with that already.
What’s good about clay is that once you get water into it, it holds the water for a long time. Furthermore, clay is already nutrition rich, and with the added compost, it will be super-soil! I can’t wait to start planting in March & April.
Plants that work well in clay soil include those that have tapered roots and that will actually help break up the soil. Think carrots, Swiss chard with its large roots, or the much smaller radish. Also beet, kale, Jerusalem artichokes, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts do very well in clay. Consider okra, beans, tomato, squash, and cantaloupe too.
Note: Although you can do winter vegetables in clay, it is often considered that clay is not ready for planting till it’s really Spring. If the clay is walked on or worked in winter, it gets even more dense you see, requiring even more mulch and organic material. So, it’s best to wait till all that rain, the snow and frost is well and truly over, and then begin with having a fantastic crop year!
And now … ta da… let me share with you ….
How to Make Seed Balls
So, with this list of what vegetables grow well in clay soil in hand, we started making our seed balls. It is as easy as this:
STEP 1: Get your saved organic seed collection out. I store my seed treasures in a silk Chinese pouch, so that I feel rich when I open it up and find all these little bags of seed in it. I found that pill boxes are also great seed saver devices, good for larger seeds and ‘lazy’ seed collections whereby I store bits of the stems or plant green together with the seeds.
image credit: Rose, Fine Craft Guild
Bee Attracting vs. Butterfly Attracting Wild Flower Seed Bombs
The list of butterfly attracting and bee attracting wild flowers have great overlaps. So, when purchasing one type of wild flower seeds is likely to have attraction power for the other type of loveliness as well. Our butterfly attracting seed bombs contain a mix of corn field natives: red poppies, blue corn flowers (considered a beneficial weed with edible flowers), yellow corn marigold and white ox-eye daisies.
Like the idea of making bee & butterfly attracting wild flower seed bombs, but have no wild flower seed laying around?
Online there are many different kind of packs of native wild flower seeds for sale. Browse around to learn about and purchase only native flowers like these organic wild flower seeds for US customers.
For UK/European customers these are recommended: native wild flower seeds
STEP 2: Prepare the ‘dough’: by mixing a bit of compost within your base clay.
STEP 3: Take a few seeds of the plants you wish to plant, take a small handful of your dough (golf-ball to 1/2 a tennis ball size) and form it into a ball with the seeds inside. (see my guide on companion planting).
STEP 4: Let the balls dry on a kitchen towel or on top of a paper bag. Then, when dry, store them in a paper bag till the time is right for planting. Or display them on a pretty bowl, but be sure that they are not mistaken by anyone for chocolate truffles.
STEP 5: throws those balls around! When the time is right, mulch your clay and simply throw or place the balls on top of your soil. Give it a good water and pray. Let nature take its course! It knows just what to do and when.
- Also see my articles on:
- A. Companion Planting: which plants flourishes next to what. (free downloadable poster)
- B. An genius Recycled Plastic Bottle Irrigation System
- C. Vertical Gardening + more Vertical Vegetable Gardening Ideas
- D. How to Root Roses
- E. More garden crafts & creative outdoor living projects: Learn how to make your own outdoor shower, how to make a tire swing, how to build your own fire pit, how to lay tiles for a garden path, and other such fun inventions!