The seedball—also known as a seedbomb, also known as awesome—is one way to show those neglected parts of town some love. Toss it and let it sprout and beflower otherwise barren patches of ground. Below, step-by-step instructions for two different methods of making your own.
Benefit: all-natural ingredients. Con: messy as all get out. The choice is yours!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
» Native, noninvasive, preferably organic seeds (wildflowers, herbs, edibles)
» Powdered nonchemical brown or red clay (available at pottery supply houses, along riverbanks in the Southwest, and at some garden centers)
WHAT TO DO
1. Mix two parts mixed seeds with three parts compost.
2. Add five parts clay powder.
3. Add enough water to bring the mixture to the consistency of dough (play-, bread-, or pizza-).
4. Pinch off a small amount of dough and roll it between your palms to create a ping-pong-ball-sized sphere. You can go smaller if you have the attention span/time/handpower.
5. Repeat as needed.
6. Spread the balls out on newspaper in a shady spot to dry.
7. Tell your friends that you made chocolate truffles and see if they fall for it.
8. No, not really. Don't let your friends eat them. Do dispense responsibly as you see fit.
RECIPE 2: NEWSPAPER
Why we’re OK with this method: In an anaerobic landfill, newspaper takes a long, long time to break down. Not ideal. But in a garden, yard, or otherwise open area in need of florifying (i.e., an environment with plenty of oxygen), newspaper should degrade just fine. Plus, it’s craft-project friendly. In other words, less messy. Slightly.
For our first test run, we used about ten sheets of a regular broadside newspaper and about 1/8 cup seeds. This yielded roughly 20 seedballs; you can scale your materials up or down accordingly. We’ve heard reports that newspaper seedballs do better when planted than thrown. Ours sprouted within three days, sitting inside near a window, so we found them plenty viable, but we’ll probably pot the sprouted balls under a thin layer of potting soil. Tada! Patio-dining centerpieces. For more reading and fun suggestions—shapes, colors—check out Gardener Scott’s blog, to which we’re indebted.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
» Sheets of newspaper
» Paper shredder
» An immersion blender (or a food processor that you’re prepared to commit to the seedball cause)
» Seeds, especially wildflowers (we had success with a mix of marigolds and bachelor buttons; sunflowers are nearly failsafe)
WHAT TO DO
1. Shred the newspaper using a paper shredder. Seriously. Don’t try this by hand. Borrrring.
2. Soak the shredded newspaper in a bowl of water for a bit—a useful step but not crucial.
3. Transfer the whole soggy mess to a food processor or to a stainless steel bowl in which you can safely use an immersion blender. CAUTION! Newspaper ink can stain plastics, including your food processor, so if you’re going that route, you might pick up a cheap second-hand model. In some ways, an immersion blender is ideal because the only bits that touch the newspaper are stainless steel—yep, as in stainless—and easy to clean.
4. Blend. You might need to add extra water but don’t go overboard. You’re aiming for chunky pulp not watery goo.
5. If you’re using a food processor, transfer the pulp to a bowl. Whichever method you’re using, relocate to a sink or so that you’re working over a bowl to catch ensuing drippage. Grab handfuls of the pulp and squuuuuueeeeeeeeze the water out. Dispose the water or reuse for future batches. Dump each squeezed handful of pulp back in a bowl.
6. Add your seeds to the pulp. We used about 1/8 cup for ten sheets of newspaper, which was plenty. Knead well.
7. From here, you can press your seedball pulp into mini cupcake molds or use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes. Both of these versions are kid- and gift-friendly. Or you can simply pinch off heaping tablespoons and roll them into balls between your palms: quick and dirty. Less dirty than clay—but still.
8. Let dry. A windowsill in the kitchen did the trick but an outdoor spot in partial shade should work, too.
9. Toss! Pot! Give! Or store for future use. We haven’t tried it ourselves, but Gardener Scott says newspaper seedballs will keep for months.
MORE FUN WITH SEEDBALLS
• HOMEGROWN member Pat says: "I have been know to toss wildflower seeds alongside the road, just to have something besides weeds to look at. I'm going to try to make these with just a flour and compost mixture and seeds in wrapping tissue paper." Anyone tried any other eco-friendly combinations? Post your comments below.
• The downloadable pictures at the bottom of this 101 come from the pages of The Guerilla Art Kit—useful for throwing your own seedball-making party, don't you think? (That photo above right is from HOMEGROWN's own seedball booth at Maker Faire 2010.)
• And for inspiration, check out the video below from Catfishbones.
Got another seedball recipe to toss out there? Post it below and keep the conversation rolling! Then seed more DIY projects with the Seed Starting 101 and the Seed Selecting 101, which also covers saving and testing. You can discuss other seedballsy ideas in the Radical Homemakers group, and you can always turn up more things to make, craft, plant, grow, cook, preserve, and lob in the HOMEGROWN 101 archive.
MAKER FAIRE PHOTO: CORNELIA
Have a ton of empty lots here also along with huge homeless population. So, it'll be great to seed bomb some edibles by their lil community.