Earth Dumplings

16 Jan

seed bomb

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Many tales surround the history of the seed bomb, but I prefer this version of the ‘Earth Dumpling’ from Seed Freedom.

Seedbombs originated in Japan and are an ancient technique called Tsuchi Dango (粘土団子,土団子,土だんご) which means ‘Earth Dumpling’ which was reintroduced by a Japanese microbiologist in 1938 called Masanobu Fukuoka.Masanobu Fukuoka Pioneered the world of sustainable agriculture by initiating ‘natural farming’. Natural farming is a philosophy whereby gardening techniques do not include weeding, pesticides, fertilizers or tilling…mother nature is left to take care of the seeds we sow and she decides which crops to provide us with.

“Many people think that when we practice agriculture, nature is helping us in our efforts to grow food. This is an exclusively human-centred viewpoint… we should instead, realize that we are receiving that which nature decides to give us. A farmer does not grow something in the sense that he or she creates it. That human is only a small part of the whole process by which nature expresses its being. The farmer has very little influence over that process… other than being there and doing his or her small part.” — Masanobu Fukuoka

The photo above is my version of a Southeastern (US) native wildflower seed bomb for combating urban blight. They’re nice to simply put in pots too. I made mine with left over packing paper, instead of traditional clay, and a mix of coreopsis and blanket flower seed. We don’t have naturally occurring clay in our region and I didn’t want to buy any ingredients, though you could certainly use clay.

Ingredients and Equipment Used:

  • Repurposed brown kraft paper (3-4 letter sized pieces)
  • 3-4 cups of wam water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of wildflower seeds
  • two bowls
  • blender (I used a Vitamix)
  • strainer (I used one of my nut milk/ sprouting bags)


Shred the paper by hand into quarter size pieces. Soak paper for a couple of hours in warm water. Pour the paper and water mix into the blender in small batches and pulse blend. Be gentle on your blender. The paper can easily bind up the blade. Add more water if necessary. Pour the slurry back into a bowl and add the seed. You don’t need much seed for each seed bomb. Remember that each seed will grow one plant. If you use too much seed, the plants will crowd out each other, though some seeds will naturally disperse too. Mix thoroughly by hand.

Put the stainer over one of the bowls and pour the paper slurry seed mixture through the strainer. If using the nutmilk bag, squeeze the excess moisture out of the mix. Don’t squeeze too much because you want the paper pulp to be pliable. Next, form the seed bombs by pinching off a small amount and forming into a ball about 1/2 – 1″ in diameter. You can also use candy molds to make different shapes. Squeeze out the excess moisture as you form the balls. Place balls on a tray to dry. If you have a dehydrator, place the seed bombs in the dehydrator on the lowest temperature setting. The idea is to dry them out quickly before they have a chance to sprout.

That’s it! Now you’re ready to do some guerrilla gardening, lobbing seed bombs into hard to reach, neglected spaces for beautification.

If you love the idea of seed bombs, but don’t have the time to make your own, check out these fun handcrafted seed pops!


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3 responses to “Earth Dumplings

  1. Susan Horn

    January 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Thank you for the great how-to. I would be able to add naturally occurring clay at my location! Am thinking I could use LOTS of these and use them over the next few years to establish a population of perennial and self-seeding annual herbs and wildflowers that will attract, feed and shelter all manner of beneficial insects. Love the notion of planting them in pots.

    I received a gift of Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution, and recommend it highly to anyone who wants to get a more complete understanding of his “do-nothing” approach to agriculture. Very different from most Western approaches, except permaculture — this seems like one way to do permaculture.

  2. elitrope

    January 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Susan, thanks for stopping by and glad you liked the how to! I’m thinking the same thing about trying to establish some wildflower perennials on the big sand dune mound in front of our house. Right now it’s populated with Spanish Bayonet. Ouch! Need to soften the edges a bit.

    Oh, I need to get a copy of One Straw Revolution. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Pingback: The Tower Blog

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