Honestly, before this purchase, I’d never even heard of seed bombs. It turns out they’re not only a cute design ploy but a clever tool of subversion and community beautification.
Win win win win win!
So several weeks ago BoyfriendMan and just I wandered into an Oxfam store in Leuven, which is always a risky situation. These types of stores are usually full of creative and charming fair-trade or “proceeds go to charity” type of goods. While the minimalist in me is often able to walk away instead of buying lovely things I don’t need, the humanitarian in me says, “you should really buy something! It’s for a good cause! Don’t you want to support small businesses, artisans in Tunisia, etc.?”
It’s my own shopping shoulder angel/devil situation.
As I searched for something cheap and useful I could buy to ease my guilty conscience, my eyes landed on this colorful doodad full of catnip seeds sold by Kabloom in the UK. I had to buy it.
Seed Bombs: Not Your Grandma’s Seed Bag!
First off, this design is frigging adorable. Not sure why this cat is wearing a luchador mask, but I don’t care. My interest is piqued!
And forget little paper seed bags. This seed bomb’s biodegradable shell is actually shaped like a little grenade! I’m so sold.
Second, who doesn’t need a little more plant action in their life? NO ONE, that’s who.
I mean, everyone could use another plant in their home. Plants are a natural mood-booster for one, and for two, this particular plant might make my cat spaz out and roll around on the rug, which is always hilarious.
And at just five euro, it’s not a huge risk. Even the blackest thumb can afford to give this seed bag a go.
The colorful design of the packaging catches your attention much better than the neutral color of the seed bomb itself would. No space is wasted in the packaging, which always strikes me as very resourceful. Detailed instructions line the interior of the cardboard packaging.
As if the funky, creative packaging weren’t fun enough, their tagline distills the directions into a memorable form. Just
Does anyone else feel like a round of Bop-It right about now?
Enough cooing over the packaging! It’s time to activate this mutha fucka.
How to Use a Seed Bomb
1. Gather your materials.
Pretty straightforward to use one of these. All you really need is the seed bomb, a source of water, and somewhere to throw (or place) the seed bomb. Here I have a pot of soil ready to go, and next to it is my seed bomb. Mine is filled with catnip seeds, but you can get them filled with common garden flower seeds, herb seeds, or even wildflower mixes to attract pollinators.
2. Shake it, baby.
Shake the crap out of the seed bomb to distribute the mixture of soil and seeds evenly.
3. Pull the pin on your seed bomb!
What would a grenade be without a pin to pull? Here our “pin” is actually a sticker holding a cardboard stopper in place. Pull the pin and pull out the cardboard stopper. I love how playful the packaging design is!
4. Soak your bomb.
Fill the seed bomb with water and give it a minute to soak through the soil and into the biodegradable shell. Repeat a few times until your grenade is good and soaked. The sides of the shell should be soft, but the grenade shouldn’t still be full of water.
5. Prepare it to b(l)oom!
Throw your seed bomb! Orrrrr just place it wherever you want it. This isn’t a “bury your seeds 6 – 8 inches deep” situation because your plants will start growing out of the soil that’s inside the bomb.
If you do just place your bomb, make sure you squeeze the bottom and top between your fingers to help the pod split open. In this photo, the grenade is already splitting open, but after this photo, I made sure it split the rest of the way.
6. Nurture your seed bomb.
Okay, this isn’t something you’d normally do with a grenade, but make sure it stays warm and watered to the best of your abilities. I hung mine in a window under some sage I have drying. Best of luck, catnip seeds!
Seed Bombs as a Tool in Guerrilla Gardening
The fact that they’re meant to be thrown and split open, the fact that they don’t have to be buried, and the fact that the shell is shaped like a grenade all made me curious. It seemed there was more to these seed bombs than met the eye, so I went to the company’s website for more information. There I learned about something else I’d never heard of:
This refers to a movement that became really popular in the UK a few years ago. The basic idea is to cultivate a garden of sorts on property that doesn’t belong to you.
Here’s how it generally works:
- You identify a space in need of some love, life, and color. Prime examples include small, neglected patches of dirt in urban areas or a scrubby, unloved median.
- Select native plants that are likely to survive the conditions of the area.
- Plant them in a sneak attack of beautification! Possibly at night, if you’re worried about getting caught. Or during the day, if you’re trying to raise awareness!
- Water, weed, and otherwise maintain your unofficial “garden” and enjoy the extra life brought to the area.
That’s why they designed the seed bombs this way! They’re self-contained to facilitate seed growth in subprime soil situations, they require few resources or tools to activate, and they split open once you throw them. These design features allow for “gardening” in locations that are hard to reach or a quick gardening-on-the-go mission. And the grenade shape acts as a symbolic nod to the idea of guerrilla gardening as a “war” on impersonal urbanization and community neglect. It’s a “weapon” to use in a war of peace and beauty.
It’s hard not to enjoy the poetry and gentleness of this subversive activism, but the guerrilla gardening movement has its critics. The gardening, since it’s done on land that doesn’t belong to you, is usually not legal. And in a thinkpiece at the Guardian, one botanical surveyor claims that guerrilla gardening is a poor substitute for influencing change through normal legal channels.
Guerrilla Gardening Resources
If you decide to give it a go yourself, you can find lots of information and inspiration to get you started. See GuerrillaGardening.org for tips and photos of other gardeners’ projects.
Make sure to plant only plants native to your area! Invasive species have a devastating effect on local ecosystems. Search for plants and seed bombs from your continent and region. The Kabloom seed bombs I talk about in this post feature seeds optimized for Europe. For North American seed bombs try Seedles or the products at Seed-Balls.com.
Totally new to gardening? It might take some practice to get the hang of it, but Greatist has some excellent advice for those of us who need a Gardening 101 refresher.
What are your thoughts on guerilla gardening? Is it a band-aid on the wound of low community engagement, or could it be a powerful tool for transforming the face and heart of a neighborhood?