Monday, March 10, 2014

Making Seed Bombs

Two California Poppy Blossoms
Easy Care Native CA Poppies

Inspired by Demo at the Maker Faire

Now that it’s raining again in California, and weather will become balmy throughout most of the US during the next few weeks, it’s time to think about bombing our landscape—with wildflowers. These bombs, made with recycled newspaper, will absorb water, break down, and with a little luck provide substrate to nurture the seeds inside as they develop. Making seed bombs is kid-friendly provided that an adult supervises or operates the blender. Whip up a batch and toss a few by your fence or in a weedy area, and see what happens.

Three Seed Packets: Farewell to Spring, CA Poppy, Mixed Wildflowers
Good Seed Choices for California
In theory you can choose any kind of seed, but native plants are best for bombs used outside your own yard. Wildflowers are easy to grow and used to thriving in harsh conditions without human care. In California, the native California poppy is an excellent choice. Renee’s Garden supplies a variety of seeds that are bomb-appropriate including carefree annual wildflowers and pollinator plants that encourage bees to visit the garden. Renee also provides a variety pack of California poppies, which, though cultivars, are beautiful in hard-to-cultivate areas of the yard or garden. Easy food plants like lettuce can also be tried out in protected (slug free) areas of your own yard. They can be harvested before the rains stop, or nurtured along with occasional water for later harvest.

Three seed packets: Mexican Evening Primrose and Two California Poppy Cultivars
Drought Tolerant Seeds for your own Yard
A word about seed bomb etiquette: as one man’s meat is another man’s poison, so one person’s flower is another person’s weed. There can be a difference between wildflowers and native vegetation, so it’s courteous and ecologically sound to keep your seed bombs out of any nature preserves and wilderness areas. In general, confine your bombing to country backyards or urban and suburban areas. When in doubt, ask permission before bombing. Or consider giving the bombs as gifts rather than scattering them yourself. Remember that these plants might reproduce themselves by seed in years to come, so be conscious of adjacent areas to which the wildflowers might spread.

Enjoy making and using your seed bombs, and please leave a comment about what and how you’ve beautified with them!

New Use for Immersion Blender
Good Places for Seed Bombing

Your yard
Friends’ and family’s yards
Neighbors’ yards with permission
Vacant lots near commercial spaces
Urban dirt strips
Near railroad tracks
Public roadsides
Road divider strips
Freeway exits

Places to Avoid Seed Bombing

State and National Parks
State and National Forests
Wilderness areas
Roadsides adjacent to any of these areas
Near running water: streams can relocate seeds
Private property

Clay-like substrate with seeds sprinkled in
Adding Seeds to the Bomb Substrate
How to Make Seed Bombs
makes ~1 dozen

Newspaper: 2 newspaper flyers
Water: about 2 cups
Seeds: 1 – 2 packets

This is a good use for the weekly newsprint ads for grocery stores that get sent to local mailboxes. You’ll use 1-2 (about 3 sheets each) of these flyers. Shred the newspaper in a shredder and (if not cross cut already) cut into 1-2 inch strips. Tear up into small pieces by hand if you don’t have a paper shredder. Fill cup of immersion blender ¾ full of lightly packed newspaper, about 2 cups.

Add about 1 cup water and let soak in. Add another ½ cup or so of water to fill to the top of the paper. Blend with immersion blender. Stir up from the bottom with a spoon (there will likely be some unblended paper) and add another ¼ - ½ cup of water if needed to blend. Blend again until you have a thick, wet slurry of paper.

Pour slurry into a bowl. Grab a handful and squeeze out most of the water (kids love this part). Don’t make it too dry to mold, but it should hold its shape. Place squeezed handfuls in a bowl or on a plate. The mixture will be a rough claylike material.

You’ll have about ¾ cup of pulverized paper. This is good for about 1 packet of seeds, roughly ¼ - ½ tsp. depending upon the variety/size of seeds. If it’s much less, use two seed packets. If you’re using California poppy seeds, which are very small, use only ¼ tsp. (less than a packet). Add some extra if you’re using seeds from a few seasons ago.

Knead the seeds into the mixture. Pinch off chunks of about 1 tablespoon and roll into balls. Let dry completely on a plate.

Scatter or give away when thoroughly dry.

12 Drying Bombs on Plate
Finished Bombs: Let Dry then Let Go


  1. That's a good idea, Amela. Because of the drought, I didn't scatter these last year, but if we continue to get rain in CA, I'll toss some out near a southern-exposure fence later this winter and photograph the results.