Seed bombs (originally named seed balls) were an ancient way to sow crops in dense vegetation and difficult to reach land using crop seeds, clay and soil/compost formed into small balls. They were reintroduced within the last century by the Japanese organic farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka. Since then they have been vastly used as a tool for guerilla gardening all over the world.
There are many ways how you can make your own seed bombs – below you can read how we made them at the Art center as a part of an art intervention.
1. Seeds – The most important of all the ingredients. Try native seeds or seed mixtures of similar size, sprouting time and sowing period. You can gather them yourself!
2. Clay – best is to use clay found naturally in the area where you live, preferably red or brown. Otherwise you can use commercially sold red powdered terracota clay (it has very good plasticity and iron oxide and manganese content).
3. Soil – again, best is to use topsoil found naturally on the land. You can also use homemade compost, worm castings or comercially sold soil for planting (nutrients are the key for successfull planting).
How to make seed bombs
Making seed bombs with dry clay
1. Depending on the size of the seeds you want to use, adapt the following proportions:
1 measure of seeds : 3 measures of soil/compost : 5 measures of dry clay + water
Mix well soil, seeds and clay in a bowl. We used pieces of dried clay we had stored – we crushed and sieved it. Slowly add water to the mix, hand-working it thoroughly until it sticks together. Take small amounts of the mix and form balls with your hands about the size of a marble up to real ‘bombs’.
2. Put the seedbombs to dry on cardboard or sheets of newspaper in a dry place, so the seeds don’t start to germinate. Depending on the weather and humidity of the space, your seed balls will be dry in a few hours or the next day. Ours were place in direct sunlight during the day and were dry in a couple of hours.
3. Disperse in the growing season or store them for later – if you keep them in a dry place, they can last up to 1 year.
Wait for the rain and watch your seedlings sprout and grow.
There is another method of making them – you can watch the following videos of the genuine Fukuoka seed bomb making process and similar methods:
Masanobu Fukuoka Makes Seed Balls – video
Fukuoka style seed balls for no till farming – video
Making seed bombs with normal (wet) clay
Here the process is a bit different. Take a small slice of wet clay and form a small cup. Take a pinch of compost, a few seeds (3-5) and put them in the formed cup. Close the cup with your fingers and roll in your hands untill you make a ball. Don’t worry about the look – you can actually make any form you like. Just make sure the seeds are on the inside of the ball, protecetd by clay.
Dry and store as mentioned above.
Remember: making seed bombs is not an exact science – find proportions and methods that suit you best. Anyone can do it – it’s fun to do!