At first glance, seed balls look like small lumps of clay formed in to balls and while that is essentially true, it is what is inside of these balls that makes them an easy gardening tool of gardeners everywhere.
Seed balls (also referred to as seed bombs) contain seeds and a small amount of potting soil inside. They are designed to be literally thrown out to eventually sprout and grow where they land. The clay protects the seeds until enough rain has fallen to slowly break down the clay until the seeds are released. Then the potting soil gives them a head start until the roots grow into the surrounding soil.
It helps to think of seed balls as small time capsules that hold the seeds within them until the conditions are right for them to start growing. They may sprout within a few weeks, or wait more then a year until the conditions (temperature and rainfall) are just right for growth to begin.
If you can play with clay, then you have what it takes to make your own seed balls. There are two popular ways to make seed balls – one uses red potter’s clay powder and the other method uses air-dry terra-cotta clay.
Today, I will show you how to make seed balls using air-dry clay, which is easy to find at your local craft store.
Seed balls are composed of three ingredients – potting soil (or compost), air-dry red clay and seeds.
Choose a fine-textured potting soil or compost – avoid one with larger pieces, which can pierce the clay.
Now, it’s time to decide which type of seeds you will put in your seed balls. I recommend focusing on using plants that easily grow from seed and that will grow with the water provided by rain alone – unless you throw them in an area where they will receive supplemental water.
Seeds from wildflowers and perennials are very popular choices. Herbs and vegetables can also be used in seed balls. This is a great way to use the seeds that you collect from your favorite plants or you can buy seeds from the store.
Some of my favorite seeds for seed bombs include: wildflowers (native to your area), alyssum, lobelia, butterfly milkweed, scarlet sage, sunflower, basil, cilantro, lettuce or tomatoes all of which grow easily from seed.
Putting together your seed balls is very simple. Grab a small amount of clay and form it into a circular shape, as shown. Add a pinch or two of potting soil – don’t add too much or you’ll have trouble closing up your ball. Then add your seeds. I added 2 – 3 sunflower seeds to each seed bomb. For herbs and vegetables, I would add 4 – 5 seeds.
If you are making a wildflower seed bomb, be sure to add a good amount of seeds – at least 10 – 15.
Once you have added the soil and seeds, gently bring up the sides of your circle of clay, and gently press the ends together to seal it. If there are any small holes, simply take a little bit of clay and cover it. Don’t worry if your seed balls look a bit messy and aren’t round – they don’t need to look perfect.
Allow the seed balls to air dry for a couple of days until the color of the clay lightens - they will shrink a little too. At this point, your seed balls are ready to be used. You can throw them in a bare area in your garden and let nature take its course – imagine a bare area coming alive with beautiful wildflowers! You can also store your dried seed balls until you are ready to use them.
Seed balls also make a great gift idea. Put a few wildflower seed balls in a small, drawstring bag and give them to a friend. Another gift option is to pair seed bombs with a small container and potting soil so that the recipient can grow their own herb garden.
As I mentioned earlier, there are two popular ways to make seed bombs. One is using air-dry clay, which I have shown you. The other method uses red potter’s clay powder and the process of making seed balls is a little different. You can visit my personal garden blog to see how to make seed balls using this alternative method and a very cool way to package them using toilet paper rolls here.
Have you heard of this easy gardening idea before? What seeds would you put in your seed balls?