We’ve got a guest writer for this post. Thanks to them for some inspirational writing and ideas…
“It was my brother who started the whole thing off. Cycling to work instead of travelling by van he began to enjoy the lovely Sussex landscape at a more leisurely pace. However it was the neglected, bare verges and a dull, large roundabout on his route that caught his eye and prompted his request for some ‘seed bombs’. These are small capsules of soil and seed that he wanted to launch as he rode past with the aim that they would green-up his view on the way to work and provide flowers for bees and butterflies. Having always been keen on the idea of ‘guerilla gardening’ and with three young sons that are heavily into weaponry of any kind, especially the type that involves mud, I was only too happy to assist.
‘Green Guerillas’ (started by Liz Christy in the US, and now worldwide, are a group of anonymous individuals who set about transforming neglected public spaces with plants but without permission), first listed recipes for seed bombs back in the 1970’s. These were made from balloons or old Christmas baubles filled with seed, fertiliser and water ready to be thrown onto inaccessible sites giving the seed the best chance to germinate and flourish. Modern versions are more eco-friendly but just as ingenious, some use blown egg-shells as the carrier others are launched from seed guns or rockets. I opted for the low-tech, mud-ball version, but for anyone who wants to stay clean and still have a go you can even buy ready-made, grenade-shaped bombs (www.kabloom.co.uk) - but where’s the fun in that!
Having rifled through my seeds I found some quick-growing annuals that bees will love; poppies, calendula and cornflowers. I borrowed a few spadefuls of heavy clay soil from a neighbour as mine is too sandy and the bombs need this to stick together. First step was to break the clay up, removing any stones and small twigs, add compost (about 1:3) to lighten the texture, then just enough water to make a dough the consistency of pastry and pinch off small handfuls to roll into golf-ball sized bombs. To add larger seeds such as calendula make a hole with the end of a pencil, drop in a few and re-seal . As poppy seeds are tiny, we rolled these firmly into the surface or they can be mixed in before adding the water. The seed bombs are then dried out till you’re ready to use them so they develop a nice hard coat and don’t break up when they hit the ground. Left in ideal conditions our bombs showed signs of germination in five days.
Whatever your weapon of choice, before you launch there is a general seed bombing code of conduct; always use seed from wildflowers indigenous to your area, don’t throw onto private property as this may legally be considered an act of vandalism or onto farmland and don’t make your bombs from anything that won’t decompose rapidly. To improve success choose fast-germinating annuals and target bare soil with a forecast of rain ahead.
My boys loved the whole process of making seed bombs and I’ll repeat it with the school garden club to green up an area in the grounds. Although I’m not sure how successful this method is as you’re direct sowing and leaving nature to her own devices, it’s still a fun way of spreading the eco-word. I’ve handed our prototype bombs over to my cyclist brother and will keep you posted with news. If you fancy a bit of guerrilla gardening yourself read Richards Reynolds on Guerilla Gardening: A handbook for gardening without boundaries.”
The writer, her brother and her three sons wish to remain anonymous.......