After reading a LOT of information about genetically modified seeds, and in turn learning about ‘guerrilla gardening’, I was further led to the discovery of ‘seed balls‘.
Seed balls are sustainable, ecofriendly tools, initially created for ecological urban renewal. On a less serious note, they’re just a whole lot of fun!
Seed balls solve many of the problems loose seeds face before they have the chance to grow.
Wind can blow seeds away, birds or rodents might eat them, the sun can bake out their vitality, and excessive rain can carry them off. Seed balls protect them from all of that.
A seed ball is a little ecosystem that protects the seeds inside before they sprout. Essentially, it’s a ball of soil, clay and seeds, that when thrown, dropped, or placed in the spot where you’d like the seeds to grow, (and after it receives some moisture or rain), the seed ball acts like a micro-garden that slowly starts to break down as the seeds inside begin to emerge.
The seeds are then nurtured in that same pile of clay and nourishing soil. and because of this, seed germination from seed balls is very high!
So enamoured with the concept, I immediately set out to make some. In fact, over the last decade, I’ve made thousands, distributing them across North America, in packages of a dozen to individuals, and bulk quantities to be passed out at all kinds of events.
I also make them just for me.
By customizing the variety of plants every year, depending on what seeds I saved, I make a batch to throw on the steep hill beyond our back yard. It has beautified an underused space with flowers that encourage pollinators!
Before you begin, and I learned this the hard way so you don’t have to, this can be a messy project, especially if kids are involved, so to save time and aggravation, don’t wear your best clothes, and remove your rings! – Now for the recipe!
- Mix two parts soil, two parts dry powdered clay, and a whole lot of seeds.
- The varieties here include a range of drought tolerant native species harvested from my own garden. However, you can use any flower seed, herbs, fruit or veggie.
- Next step is to add water. Not too much, or too quickly, but enough to make the mixture damp. Stir it in slowly. If the mix is too dry, it won’t hold together so add a bit more. If the soil and clay become overly wet, the seeds will sprout before your finished seedballs get a chance to dry, which means you can’t store them to use at a later date. If the clump holds together, but won’t ooze water if you squeeze it, then that’s the perfect consistency.
- Then, roll the small clump in your hands into the size of a meatball and place them on trays to dry. If you’re fortunate enough to have a grow light stand, put them under the lights overnight. They’ll be almost completely dry the next day. If not, it will take a couple of days. Put them next to a heat register if you have room.
- Just a note to tie in with step 1 – If you’re using sunflower seeds which are large in size, I’d suggest rolling the balls first, then manually pushing a few seeds inside after.
If you’re really feeling motivated and want to make more, how about getting creative? Use a candy/soap mold to make different shape seed balls!
I picked up a heart shaped chocolate mold at a local thrift shop and have used it for years to make the heart shaped seed balls. They’ve been a favourite choice for wedding favours and for non-profits to hand out to volunteers at events.
Just to add, they’re really popular this time of year as a Valentine’s Day gift. Enjoy, and grow some love!