We live in times when trees have become endangered commodities. Whether it is to build colossal apartments or metro stations and steel flyovers, trees are often the silent victims of modernization. While policy changes are crucial to bringing about sustainable change, nature-loving citizens of all ages have taken to greening their surroundings with an explosive idea—Seed bombing!
Seed balls, also known as “earth balls” or nendo dango, consist of a variety of different seeds rolled into a ball of clay. Into this medium, various additives may be included, such as humus or compost. These are placed around the seeds, at the center of the ball, to provide microbial inoculants.
Cotton-fibres or liquefied paper are sometimes mixed into the clay in order to strengthen it, or liquefied paper mash coated on the outside to further protect the clay ball during sowing by throwing, or in particularly harsh habitats.
A technique of planting trees by embedding organic seed balls in the ground, seed bombing is gaining popularity in many Indian cities.
Though it has found global fans in recent years, historical records suggest that seed bombing existed even in ancient Egypt. Its popularity is attributed to Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka, who repurposed the technique for boosting food production in his farms. Since then, seed bombing—also known as aerial reforestation, seed balling and seed grenades—have been employed in many countries including India.
“It’s necessary to tell people to stop cutting trees, but it’s even better to start planting them.”
When tree planting did not yield results then idea of Seed Bombing came into picture and it worked.
While packaged seed balls and kits are becoming available in horticultural units and online stores, it is not very difficult to give DIY a shot as well.
1. Get your hand on the right seeds
Your kitchen is the best source to get some seeds and start the process. From lemons to herbs like cumin and mustard, you will find most of these seeds in your plate or spice rack. And these are perfectly good to use.
2. Use the wash-and-dry technique to prep the seeds
Once you have selected your seeds, make sure you wash them. This is especially important for seeds that you may have sucked on—like mangoes—or partly consumed.
Next comes the drying process. Remember that moisture is crucial for seed bombing to succeed. “A lot of people take their seeds to dry on the roof,” “but it makes them too dry or use.
Instead, keep them on your window sill.” Once the seeds have dried, you can store them in an airtight container till you are ready to craft your ‘bombs’.
3. Make your seed bombs when the timing is right
To reiterate, moisture is mandatory for seed bombs to germinate. That’s why it is recommended to wait for the rainy season to start making the balls. Mix the seeds with 3/4th mud and 1/4th cow dung and make them into small but firm balls.
You can also replace cow dung with other forms of organic compost. Give them some time to air dry. You are almost done!
4. Bombing the earth with seeds
Now comes the final part. Contrary to popular belief, seeds bombs are not meant to be buried in the ground. Instead, embed them partially in the ground.
Now throw your seed bombs of change into any vacant lot, neglected flower bed, or bare lot and don’t forget to water your new brand new guerrilla garden!