May 27, 2011

Seed Bomb Season!


For the last few years I have tried to be the Johnny Appleseed of Chicago. But instead of planting apple trees, I plant wildflowers and grass in empty lots and other sad-looking locations.

I do it with seed bombs.

A seed bomb is one of the primary "weapons" in the arsenals of guerrilla gardeners. The traditional seed bomb is a little ball of clay with some fertilizer and seeds in it that you can throw into a fenced-in area that needs some plant life.

But I have come up with my own version of a seed bomb that is easier to make (in my opinion) and less messy.

The idea came from seed paper — handmade paper that has seeds in it and you can plant in the ground.

I figured it would be just as easy to form the paper pulp into balls as it would be to make paper out of it (easier, actually). And then it can be used as a projectile to spread green throughout my neighborhood.

So here is my version of recycled paper seed bombs.



YOU NEED:
- Old paper bags or other paper. Just make sure it is unbleached and doesn't have any dyes or ink.
- Wildflower or grass seeds (they grow best because they don't need to be planted deeply).
- Stick blender
- Tub to hold everything

OPTIONAL: 
- Paper shreadder
- Food dehydrator

WARNING:
Paper is rough on blades (that's why it's really bad to use your favorite fabric shears on paper). So I don't recommend using your brand new, expensive blender for this project.



STEP ONE: 
Shred or cut your paper into small pieces no more than 1/2 inch on any side. For this batch of seed bombs I cut up about 10 paper bags.



STEP TWO:
Put the shredded paper into a tub and fill the tub with water. Let the paper soak for several hours to soften it so it won't be so hard on your blender.



STEP THREE: 
Use your stick blender to turn the paper and water into pulp.

You can't see the seeds in the picture but, trust me, they're there.


STEP FOUR:
Add seeds to the mixture. You don't want too many seeds or the plants will crowd each other out. But if you use too few seeds you may not get any viable plants at all. As a rule of thumb I say the pulp with seeds should look like poppyseed muffin batter.

STEP FIVE: 
Reach into the pulp mixture and pull out a little bit of pulp. Squeeze as much water out of it as you can and roll the pulp into a small ball.



STEP SIX: 
Set the balls somewhere they can dry quickly. It's important that they dry quickly so they don't mold and the seeds don't germinate. But you don't want to apply too much heat or you could start a fire or kill the seeds. I put mine in a food dehydrator.

STEP SIX:
After the balls are bone dry they will be shelf-stable. You can store them for future use or use them right away.

STEP SEVEN:
Throw the seed bombs into areas that have soil but need a little plant life.

Technically, seed bombs could be considered litter and using them could be against the law. So follow a few basic rules.

Rule No. 1: Don't get caught. :)
Rule No. 2: Only use seeds for plants that are native to your area (no invasive species).
Rule No. 3: Only use them to improve an area, not to vandalize.

6 comments:

  1. I've had trouble in the past with my seed bombs germinating before they have a chance to dry. I love the idea of putting them in a food dehydrator to dry, how long do you put them in for and at what setting?

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  2. Hi GrowMe,
    Put it on a low setting. I have an old food dehydrator that doesn't actually have any settings (you just plug it in) but I can open the vents more or less to adjust the temperature. I thought it was getting too hot in there so I removed the lid completely and that worked out well.

    When I make seed bombs they are usually mostly dry within 12 hours and bone dry within 24 hours.

    I hope that helps. :)

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  3. Thanks heaps, I am going to give it a go tomorrow :)

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  4. What a great idea! I've got an old dehydrator and blender that I've been wanting to put to use and this is the perfect project! Thanks so much for a great tutorial!

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  5. I love your title: "Johnny Appleseed of Chicago" ! So funny. Thanks for your step by step guide. I Shared it on FB.

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  6. What seeds have you used that successfully germinated?

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