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Do you know what these are?
You may say that they are nothing more then little balls of mud and you would be partly right.  But, there is more then just mud included in these balls.
Known as seed balls, earth balls or seed bombs, they contain a mixture of clay, compost and seeds.
So now that you know what seed balls are, you may be wondering what do you do with seed balls and why would you want to make them?
Seed balls are an easy way to plant seeds in an area  with regular, unimproved soil.  The ‘ball’ part contains ingredients (clay & compost) that help the seeds within to start growing without having to dig a hole or improve the soil.

You simply throw the seed ball(s) on a bare area where you would like to see plants grow.


I saw these seed balls while attending the first annual Sustainability Festival that was held over this past weekend in downtown Phoenix.
I will talk more about the festival in a future post 🙂

Back to seed balls – the clay and compost mixture protect the seeds from being eaten or blown away until the time is right for the seeds to start sprouting – usually in response to rainfall and the right temperature.  
‘Seed bombing’ is becoming a common practice in many countries and is part of a movement called ‘Guerrilla Gardening‘, which uses seed balls to plant vegetation in empty lots (often without permission), that are often present in urban areas.
It is also used to plant seeds in bare areas on large pieces of property.  The seeds will stay safely inside their little ball until there is enough water provided by rainfall.  
I think that seed balls would make a fabulous gift for the person in your life whether they are a gardener or have a ‘black’ thumb.
They are easy to make.  The following directions are furnished by the Valley Permaculture Guild.
1 cup compost (you can buy a bag at your local nursery if you don’t make your own).
1/4 – 1/2 cup of seeds.
Mix together and add spoonfuls of water, stirring in between until the mixture sticks together.  Form into small balls and allow them to dry for a few days.  Store dry seed balls in a paper bag or cardboard box until you are ready to scatter them. The seed balls will sit until they receive enough moisture to soften the clay/compost mixture and allow them to sprout.
You can make them into fun shapes like the hearts, above.

For the Southwest, I recommend using wildflower seeds (California poppies, lupine, red flax), sunflowers, desert marigold, brittlebush, penstemon or globe mallow in your seed balls.
You can gift wrap your dried seed balls using half a toilet paper roll.  Place the seed ball inside and squeeze the ends closed.
Then wrap with a strip of colored paper and tape shut.
Using seed balls to revegetate bare areas has been in practice for many years in other countries such as Japan and is now becoming a popular trend in the United States.

*I don’t recommend throwing seed balls into areas that already have vegetation growing, such as natural areas because the new seeds can compete and overtake the native plants.

So what do you think?  Are seed balls a gardening trend that you can get into?  I enjoy making my own seed balls and teaching others how to make them too!
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

3 replies
  1. Balisha
    Balisha says:

    These would have been great here a couple of weeks ago. I planted a lot of seed along my woods border. Wildflower seeds.I'm sure that the birds got a lot of them.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family..Balisha

  2. Indie
    Indie says:

    I've seen them before and thought that they would make a great gift. And how fun to throw them in an empty lot or somewhere where there is little else blooming – of course, one would probably want to make sure that the seeds are from native area plants if throwing them out in the wild. What a great project!

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