Griff’s Wild Tips: How to Make Seed Bombs (AKA Seed Balls).

Seed bombsMaking native plant seed bombs (AKA seed balls) is a great way to engage friends and family into helping you save the world! Well… you will at least save some pollinators and maybe some of the plants and predators that depend on them. Native plants evolved with the other players in their local eco-game, which means that some insects (like moths and butterflies) have evolved  to resist some of the natives’ toxins. Those plants that they have evolved an “immunity” to become the plants that they lay their eggs on. It’s the plants their larvae (caterpillars) feed on. (Think monarch and milkweed).  Many moths and butterflies can only lay their eggs on one or a handful of related plants that they evolved with. Once those plants are gone, so are the butterflies. And since songbirds feed insects (especially caterpillars) to their young, less native plants also means less songbirds. So let’s plant the plants that are native to our regions!!! Seed bombs are a fun way to do that.

I recently made a bunch of seed bombs with some young adults in the California Conservation Corps, and was stoked to see them enjoying themselves. I think they liked putting the seed balls out as much as making them. Making native plant seed bombs and distributing them outdoors opened the gates for many different conservation conversations among them: like why native plants are far better for local wildlife than non-native wildlife, and where are the best sites to place our “bombs” to ensure the seeds would have the right amounts of sun and shade, water availability, etc, in order to sprout.

Seed bombs are balls made of equal parts clay and soil that encase seeds. They solve some of the challenges that casting native wildflower seeds frequently have. When you cast seeds on the ground, they often get baked by the sun, blown away by the wind, washed away by heavy rains, or eaten up by birds and/or rodents.  Seed bombs protect seeds from those challenges.

On YouTube you can find several different seed bomb recipes which may include professed insect, fungal, and/or animal repellants like cayenne pepper and cinnamon. I’m not sure if those spices actually help protect the seeds, but if you have had good experiences with different seed bomb recipes and secret ingredients, please let me know in the comment section.

Also, if you have a better name than “seed balls” or “seed bombs,”  let me know. Both sound funny to me, but it’s not a big deal.

Now check out my first video in the series “Griff’s Wild Tips” titled, How to Make Seed Bombs/Balls.

To find out which native plants grow in your area, check out the native plant society in your state. For example, in my state we have the California Native Plant Society.

Here is a succinct article from the Audubon Society about how and why to make seed balls, titled Making Seed Balls to Help Birds.

Here is another interesting articles about Seed Bombs.

For more information on why you should plant native plants, check out this book by Dr. Tallamy titled, Bringing Nature Home. I highly recommend it for everyone, but especially for those of you who advocate for wildlife/human coexistence, native plant gardening and restoration, pollinators, and wildlife corridors.

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