A Different Sort of Bombing ...

Green Tech Chicago - Seed BombingIf the rumors (and a few tantalizing days’ promise) are true, Spring may yet be coming to Chicago. Sure, it’s been said that both Spring and Fall around these parts are simply three weeks of rain separating Winter and Summer, but the plants have to come up sometime and soon would be good (although there’s been precious little sign of same in my neighborhood, at least).

Perhaps a better signal was the appearance on the GOOD (“The Social Network for Social Good”) web site of an article on “Seed Bombing”. {Editor’s Note: we’d planned to have this post up a few days ago, but figured the topic of “bombing” could use some time of the shelf, as it were, given the events in Boston.} If you’re unfamiliar with the term, this is using small projectiles … made of clay, compost, and seeds … to spread some vegetation where one thinks it will improve things. The modern history (as you can read in the GOOD piece) was definitely on the urban guerrilla side of things, with the target being empty lots and other city eyesores that were screaming out to be beautified with flowers, etc.

I was surprised to find, while pulling things together for this post, that the concept of seed bombing has become downright gentrified, with dozens of places selling pre-made “seed balls”, and even a couple of places marketing them as wedding party favors! The video here, however, an early project by film and media producer Dorothee Royal-Hedinger, seeks to embody the “edgier” seed-bombing ethos of the 70’s, while giving a nice over-view of the purpose and process:

If you weren’t taking notes while that was going through the “how to make them” part, here’s a basic recipe:

1 part seeds
3 parts compost
5 parts dry powdered clay
water, as needed

Mix the main ingredients with enough water to wet the clay … you don’t want to have the mix too wet or you run the risk of your seeds sprouting before you’re ready to use the seed bombs! Roll into ping-pong-ball-size spheres, or press into molds (decorative ice cube trays have become popular for this). Set out on on a lined (with plastic wrap or foil) surface to dry.

What kind of seeds to use? Well, that’s ultimately up to you, but most folks end up getting one of the widely-available (on the web) “wildflower mixes” that are native to your area of the country. You certainly don’t want to be spreading “invasive species”, and you probably want something that doesn’t need any attention, especially if you’re going to be flinging them over fences and into abandoned lots (not that we’d recommend doing anything like that, no-siree).

Happy Earth Day!

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