Whether you’re into guerrilla gardening or just need a great Mother’s Day gift, these clay seed bombs are an easy DIY. This is also a fun family or school project. The kids love the big mess they can make and you can enjoy the great conversations you will have about the importance of growing your own food and planting flowers for the bees.
Seed Bomb History
I confess freely that making seed bombs from clay was NOT my original idea. Actually, seed bombs have been in use for centuries and they’ve been made from many materials through the years.
Seed bombs regained their popularity in our modern culture through the efforts of the microbiologist and pioneer in “natural farming,” Masanobu Fukuoka. He believed that you didn’t need to fertilize, use pesticides or even weed in the garden, but that you let nature decide what would grow or not grow. (That’s a very simplified version of natural farming, by the way.)
Seed bombs were made and used to provide a variety of different seeds in an area. In urban settings, you may find your garden savvy friends tossing them into abandoned home sites or vacant lots covered in weeds. (That’s not something I can publicly condone since even abandoned home sites are still private property.)
We’ve used paper to make seed bombs in the past, and that’s an easy method that has the added benefit of upcycling scratch paper laying around your house.
Making Seed Bombs from Clay
Here are a few links to learn how to make seed balls from paper scraps:
Make Seed Bombs from Recycled Paper from Joybilee Farm
Make Naturally Dyed Seed Bombs from Farm Sprouts (our children’s homesteading blog over at Hobby Farms online)
I was reading over at Mr. Brown Thumb, though, about how he makes his seed balls out of clay. One of my kids was reading over my shoulder and said, “Hey, can we make some of those? Oooh, I be they’d look cool smashed flat – you know, like a seed penny. How would we make it look like a penny? Oh, wait, didn’t we unpack our stamps? I be those would look awesome in the clay.”
Well, who am I to stand in the way of such creativity? Needless to say, we had Daddy pick up some air dry, natural clay while he was in town.
Stamped Medallion Seed Bombs
Here’s what you’ll need to make these stamped seed balls:
- Natural clay (not the kind you need to bake)
- Good potting soil or compost or a mix of both
- Seeds (wildflowers and hardy herbs are a good choice – Echinacea, poppies, goldenrod, yarrow, bee balm are some ideas)
- Cinnamon, powdered
- Rubber stamps and ink pads (optional)
How to assemble your seed bombs
Here’s how to assemble your seed bombs (also sometimes called seed balls):
- Take a small chunk of clay, about an inch in diameter.
- Warm and flatten it in your hands so that it looks like a sprawling circle.
- Add a teaspoon of potting soil to the center and sprinkle on cinnamon as an antifungal for when the seed is getting wet in the elements and its protective clay has washed away. Chris from Joybilee Farm also suggests using turmeric for the same reason – great idea!
- Add a few seeds to the center of the soil.
- Close up your seed bomb by folding your clay in half and sealing closed the edges, making it look like a closed taco or a pierogi. Clay is great because you can just smooth your finger over the edges until they stick together.
- Gently push and mold your clay on a flat surface until it’s in the shape of an oval – or circle or square, whatever you like. The depth isn’t really that important but try to keep it around 1/4 inch and uniform. This will help ensure that your seeds are exposed to the elements at about the same time.
- Gently press your choice of stamp into the surface of your clay. Use a rolling motion to keep your image as clear as possible. So, begin by gently pressing one edge of your stamp into your clay and rolling the stamp to the other side, pressing down evenly. You can use ink, if you’d like, to give the clay a little color. If there’s a goof, just smooth it out with your finger slowly, and being again. If a hole appears in your seed bomb, add another thin layer of clay.
- Air dry and then wrap to give as a gift or plant right before a good rain.
We’ve made a few batches now and the only secret seems to be in being gentle with the stamps so the picture ends up clear. If you have artists tools for clay, or want to use a bamboo skewer, you can etch your own designs into the clay. I do projects like this with five children, ranging in ages from 13 to 3, so I like the simplicity of stamps. However, my teenager went off to the side and started engraving Egyptian symbols into her clay with a small stick.
An Educational Aside
Does anyone else every silently thank Rick Riordan that he chose to write the Kane Chronicles, all based on Ancient Egyptian myths? That same teenager can rattle off every character of Greek and Roman mythology because Riordan wrote the Percy Jackson books. This has absolutely nothing to do with seeds except that everything is a learning experience and we’re planting “seeds” all the time. You can feel free to let your kid do their own thing because these clay seed bombs are pretty sturdy.
If you’ve ever made your own seed bombs, feel free to let me know if you’re technique is different. I’d also enjoy knowing what kind of seed you decided to plant – that will vary so much from growing zone to growing zone. Aren’t familiar with your “growing zone”? No worries, check out the course below: