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Make and plant seed balls

Prepare for spring by rolling up some seed balls

Some folks in New York City years ago tossed seed bombs into empty lots and along city streets to make the neighborhoods look better. They were little balls of clay, compost, and seed that grew into beautiful clusters of flowers.

The clay coating on a seed ball protects the seeds from being washed away by rain, or eaten by birds. In dry areas, the shape of the ball actually gives enough shade to conserve moisture. Seed balls are perfect for sowing in hard-to-reach places, or untilled places.
 
James Baggett is the editor of Country Gardens Magazine. He says making seed balls is an easy project.

"It's just a mixture of potter's clay powder, you can also use clay from your own yard, but potter's clay powder you can find in a craft store is Crayola Air Dry Clay," says Baggett. "Mix that with compost and seeds in a ratio of five-parts of the clay, to one-part compost, to one-part seeds with just enough water to bind it up. You want to knead that mixture with your hands into a small ball, and then let it dry in the sun."

The seed ball should be about the size of a walnut. If you don't have a dry space in the sun, set the balls on a drying rack for several days in a warm, airy place.
 
The seeds you choose should be non-invasive, and native to where you live.

"Check with your local nature conservancy or your state's department of natural resources for which plants are native to your area," says Baggett. "But think of plants like cosmos, black-eyed susans, poppies, sunflowers, wild flowers. Virtually any plant that's easy to sow, or easily sown would be appropriate to use.

Put the seed balls in a pot, or toss them on the ground. When the seeds germinate, the ball breaks apart. The small pile of clay and compost anchors the roots and the seeds to the ground. Once they start growing, Baggett says to prepare for spontaneous floral attacks.

Making seed balls is a great project for kids!

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