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Guerilla gardening is a fun way to combat our wasted spaces with something productive and beautiful that will serve both humankind and the rest of the natural world. For those unfamiliar with the term, “guerilla gardening” is the technically illegal use of land otherwise not utilized to create a garden, often for the cultivation of food and sometimes to simply make an area more aesthetically pleasing, which, when done well, can also have a host of benefits for nature.
While the legality of the situation is questionable, generally, it’s not a huge issue. Most guerilla gardens happen on abandoned lots or in typically neglected spaces, like the area between the sidewalk and the curb. More often than not, people are quite happy to see flowers instead of dirt and garbage. Why wouldn’t they be?
Unfortunately, on occasion, an abandoned or forgotten property has been fenced in, made inaccessible to the flower and foliage spreading guerilla gardener. In such instances, though the results are a little messier, we like to launch a few seed bombs.
What Is a Seed Bomb?
The seed bomb, aka green grenade, is a portal of potential plant life, a pill if you will, in which the contents include a collection of compost and seeds. It can be tossed into those hard-to-reach places where cultivators may not be able to get. In some instances, the seeds will be those of wildflowers, a great visual for pedestrians passing by, and fine fodder for foraging bees and other urban wildlife. Sometimes the green grenades explode into an array of fresh produce for some free food. It just depends on the peaceful point being made.
In a more dirt-in-the-fingernails manner of explaining, the classic seed bombs are spherical pods created out of clay, compost, and seeds, often a mix of species and sometimes numbering into the hundreds. The balls can be tossed right atop the soil, and the clay will protect the seeds from insects and animals until a natural rain shower can instigate germination. Then, nature takes over, and the right plants for the area — sun, soil, etc. — survive and thrive.
Smarter Seed Bombs
Some seed bombs are better than others, and many factors can go into using them well. Firstly, like with any gardening, it’s important to consider the environment, choosing plants that work well in the local weather, suit the soil available and fulfill the purposes — animal habitat? Human food production? Beautifying the landscape — for the bombing. The more sense the seeds make, the more likely they’ll succeed.
And there are other considerations to factor into cultivation as well. Is it the right time of year for the seeds? What season is it? Will it rain soon? Is there a lot of foot traffic or animal activity? What’s the site like? Sunny, saturated, mostly concrete, mown lawn? While it doesn’t have to be the most scientific of endeavors (but it can be), a little forethought could make a huge difference.
How to Make a Seed Bomb
While there are many incarnations of seed bombs, including literal pill capsules and sort of Molotov cocktails, the standard-issue version of a seed bomb is a simple clay and soil ball. It can be made at home by any novice, child, and adult alike and only requires three ingredients: clay, compost/rich soil, and seeds. (Some people add a like chili-garlic powder mixture for added pest repulsion.)
A good mixture is about five parts clay and five parts compost to one part seed mix. The lazy method is to put them all together and combine the ingredients well with a little water (just enough so that it all sticks together). Or, creating a flat mold with the clay and compost and then encasing the seeds within the ball will provide a little more protection. Each bomb should be around the size of a ping pong ball. Let the balls air dry, and they are ready to use.
Then, start bombing with flowers and love and free food instead of all those nasty things we usually associate bombs and enliven the neighborhood eyesore with colors and cucumbers. That’s what guerilla gardening is all about.
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