Over the past few weeks, I've noticed that many plants are beginning to seed. I'm a collector and seeds are one of my favorite things to hunt for. If I see a plant with flowers that I have been admiring go to seed, I'll grab a few. I always carry a few empty spice jars with me whenever we go for neighborhood walks* or to the park - you just never know! I usually just transfer the seeds to envelopes and either write the name of the plant on it if I know it, or draw a picture of the flower and a leaf if I don't. I try to write down where I found it, too it makes knowing where to plant it (full sun, shade) easier, too.
This year, though, we're going to make seed bombs. I plan to make three varieties: wildflowers that can be planted anywhere in our area, mixed flowers that thrive in similar habitats and have similar watering needs, and single varieties (mainly herbs and large plants that may overshadow and kill smaller ones.)
*If you are collecting seeds from someone's yard, always ask if it's OK. I've never been turned down. Most people are going to tear out the plants at the end of the season and buy new ones in the spring anyway.
So, I am re-posting my "Make Seed Bombs" post from way back in March in case you are interested in trying your own hand at making these. I've made a few changes to the original post. You will notice that the changes are in red type-face, if you saw the original post. I'm sorry I don't have any photos of us actually making them. I have just one 4 1/2 year-old digital camera and the thing has taken a beating. Making seed bombs is a messy and involved business and there is no way I could imagine having the camera that Little Guy so badly wants to use out while I'm elbow-deep in mud and seeds!
Now, you may be aware of these sweet little gems but, if not, here's a quick explanation. Seed bombs are small balls of clay, compost/soil, and seeds that you can easily plant (or even toss) into your yard for some pretty flowers. These are great gifts for spring - Easter, Mother's Day, birthdays, or "just because." They're also a wonderful two-fold activity for kids. First, you can make the bombs and then, later, your children can have their own little patch of yard or even a pot to grow them. At this time of year, there's another activity you can throw in - hunting for the seeds! Heck, if you have older kids, they might even be interested in trying to find out just what kind of plant the seeds you've found have come from - trip to the library and some research, too! Another use for these, and this is what they were actually created for in the first place, is to create pretty and natural spaces in vacant lots. Just carry a few with you wherever you walk and toss one or two into that abandoned yard.
One point to remember is that you should choose seeds that are native to your area, or if mailing to a friend or relative for a gift, native to their area. First, they will grow better with little or no care. Second, they will be appropriate for the birds and insects in your area. Introducing new plant species can be hazardous to the ecosystem in the long run, so make sure you check online or with your local parks service to make sure the plants you choose won't do any harm. Many times, park systems even have native plant seeds available for free or a nominal fee.
You will need:
1/2 c. mixed seeds
3/4 c. compost or garden soil
1 1/4 c. powdered clay (red or brown)**
1. Either cover your work surface and the floor with lots of newspaper, or work outdoors. Wear old clothes and be ready to get a
2. Mix the seeds with the compost. Gently stir in the powdered clay. Be careful not to mix the powdered clay to quickly because, while it's just clay, you don't want to breathe it in. (The clay isn't toxic, but your lungs don't need all that dirt in there!)
3. Add the water so the mixture is just moist enough to form into balls about 1" in diameter, or the size of a walnut. Little Guy, who helps me bake bread, loves his job of "kneading" the "dough"!
**Don't use too much water. You run the risk of soaking the seeds too much and either starting them growing or rotting them. Using too little water, on the other hand, can lead to the balls crumbling apart. Try to get a consistency like play dough.
4. Set the balls about 1/2" apart on newspaper-lined baking sheets to dry. Depending on the humidity, it should take about 24 to 48 hours. You want to make sure they're completely dry all the way through before storing or giving. Don't dry them in the sun - they'll start to grow. Trust me - I've done this! You can cover them with newspaper and hide them in a shady spot outside. Drying in the oven, even on the lowest setting could be too hot and kill the seeds - Been there, done that, too!
If you're storing the seeds for your own garden, put them in a paper bag in a dry, cool, dark place. If you plan to give them away, there are tons of ways to make the gift look great. Here are a few ideas:
- Recycle some old shirts by sewing simple cloth bags and tying with a pretty ribbon.
- cotta pots, a bag of soil, homemade garden markers and seed bombs into a basket.
- Have your kids decorate a small box with paint, stickers, or cut paper of the flowers that the seed bombs will grow into.
- Put the bombs into an old candy box!
- Try adding some pretty recycled paper into the muddy mixture for some color.
- Press the seeded clay into silicone candy molds for heart-, flower-, etc. shaped bombs
- I have experimented with using just paper to make seed bombs. The best paper is handmade because it dissolves well and molds better. A friend of mine was tickled pink to receive purple seed bombs for her birthday - it's her favorite color!
- Let your kids go nuts and sculpt the seed bombs into whatever shape they want! We made truck bombs and car bombs the last time we did this. To make sure you're not making them too thick to dry properly, make sure that the thickest part of the bombs doesn't go over the 1" diameter mark.
The possibilities are endless! Don't forget to include a list of the seeds included in the bombs and instructions.
**If you do not have access to the clay powder, try using air-dry clay. I have seen quite a few instances where people have used it successfully. I looked up Crayola Terra Cotta Air Dry Clay 2.5 lb Bucket. According to the Art and Creative Materials Institute, the people who check this stuff for toxicity, it is not toxic in any way - toy you, your kids, or the environment. Use this link to read the report for yourself. This stuff is readily available at nearly any store that sells children's art supplies and isn't really expensive. Just make sure to NOT add water unless you need to!
ANY IDEAS???Please share any ideas you may have for this great project. If you do make these, let me know how they turned out and add any tips you come up with. I love hearing new ideas and brainstorming. Even if you have an "I wonder if I did ____ what would happen" floating around in your head, please share it. Maybe someone knows the answer or is willing to try it out and will report back with the results.