Ill.: www.clipartmax.com & www.mycutegraphics.com, montage: laidbackgardener.com
Many, many years ago, back in the late 1970s, I fancied myself a guerilla gardener, based on the guerilla gardening movement I’d run into while on a visit to New York City. The idea was to spread nature onto city lands that don’t belong to you, such as vacant lots, hell strips and abandoned gardens.
I came back from my trip with visions of setting my city ablaze with blooms and bringing bees and other pollinators back into the urban core. I actually only did this once, though, having convinced a group of friends to join me, and I must admit we didn’t really change the urban environment to any great degree.
We made seed bombs in my apartment, then went out and tossed them in likely spaces—somewhere sunny, yet devoid of vegetation. Theoretically, you can seed bomb from a motorcycle or a moving car, but we had neither. We simply went out at night on foot, thinking ourselves ever so brave and cool, and tossed away.
Our greatest success was on a commercial street where large flower boxes had been installed as some sort of earlier beautification project, then mostly abandoned. We were so proud of the beautiful flowers that mysteriously appeared in the months after we bombed the containers.
There was some repeat bloom even in the following year, but then the city took out the boxes. And I was off on other guerilla gardening projects by them, mostly planting vegetables in vacant lots.
You Too Can Be a Guerilla Gardener
Why not try your own hand at guerilla gardening? Seed bombing is easy to do and a great project for a family, as kids of all ages can participate, both in making the bombs and tossing them.
Here’s what to do:
- Buy wildflower seed appropriate to your area. You’ll also need compost, either home-made or purchased, and powdered clay (from a craft shop), unless you have a source of clay soil found in nature.
- In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of seeds, 5 cups of compost and 2 or 3 cups of clay.
- Add water bit by bit, mixing it in with your hands, kneading the mixture until it has the texture of cookie dough. Too much water will result in a sloppy mess and premature germination, so go slow.
- Roll the mix into balls about the size of a golf ball.
- Set them out on a tray to dry for 24 to 48 hours.
- You can use them right away or store them for weeks.
- Put on your urban guerilla camouflage outfit (optional) and start bombing!
When to Seed Bomb?
It’s best to seed bomb with annual seeds in the spring and with perennial seeds in the fall. (Most perennials will only germinate well if they’ve spent a cold winter outdoors.)
Since seeds need water to germinate, bombing just before a period of rain will give the seeds a faster start.
Rain will cause the seed balls to break apart and release the seeds so they can germinate.
Where to Lob Your Bombs?
Wherever there is room for seeds to germinate. Little will come of tossing seed bombs into dense vegetation, even if that vegetation is only weeds, as they need light to grow. You need spots where the soil is bare or, at worst, only thinly vegetated. Freshly disturbed soils (say, after recent construction) are the very best spots.
- Vacant lots;
- Hell strips (empty strip between the road and the sidewalk);
- Abandoned gardens;
- Along bike paths;
- Recently burnt-out building;
- In city parks lacking in flowers for pollinators;
- Along railways;
- In urban tree pits;
- In resumé, anywhere there should be flowers, but there aren’t.
Having fun seed bombing your neighborhood!